Spot Misinformation When You See It | Media Literacy 101

There is a plethora of information – true or not – at our fingertips. The best way to stay informed is to fact check and remain impartial to the things you see because misinformation is everywhere. Before you share information with the world, it’s best to make sure it is accurate to stop the spread of misinformation!  

While our reference librarians are always prepared to answer any questions you may have, it’s often easier to find the answers yourself. We get it, you want the answers here and now! What we hope to do in this post is provide you with a means of fact checking information on your own and employing tricks to spot misinformation when you see it.  

Check the Source 

Where do you usually get your news from? It’s important to note that media bias exists, and some information may not be reliable depending on how the article is written. A great resource for learning which media outlets remain more neutral and reliable is the media bias chart from Ad Fontes Media. See how your most-referenced outlets pair up with others and which tend to be more biased. 

Read the Whole Article, Not Just the Headline 

Headlines don’t paint a full picture of what the article is about. It’s easy to make snap judgments based off what a headline is because we want quick information, but sometimes it’s not always true. Think you’re good at judging if an article is true based off the title? Play this game to see if you can quickly judge whether a story is true or not. Another thing to look at is who wrote the article and the date the article was written since the information could be out of date.

But I’m Not Biased!” Don’t Worry, Psychology Says We All Are 

Confirmation Bias is the “tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs” (Source: Britannica). We want to be right, it’s as simple as that! While it’s tempting to look at sites that confirm your beliefs, make sure you check a variety of sources to see the other sides of the story.  

Fact-Checking Takes Time. Are There Reliable Organizations Who Fact-Check Statements? 

Yes! FactCheck.orgSnopes.comthe Washington Post  Fact, and

Want to Become Better at Navigating Media and Misinformation? Read More! 

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young

Unspun: Finding Facts in a World of Distortion by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson 

A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age by David J. Helfand

The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread Cailin O’Connor

Book | eBook

Fact vs Fiction by Jennifer LaGarde

 A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age by Daniel Levitin

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas G. Carr

Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World by Carl T. Bergstrom

Book | eBook

Books for Kids

Teaching kids about media literacy can start with early reading! Find books about forming a worldview, asking questions, and being curious so they can better understand facts and opinions.

Facts vs Opinions vs Robots by Michael Rex

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor

If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by Ann Droyd

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry