Fact-checking before you share or use information if the facts seems unclear or questionable. Test yourself by trying to state the issues out lout. Do they seem plausible? Can you prove or disprove them? If you are not 100% sure there are steps you can take to get closer to the truth. They need something Mike Caufield, an online literacy researcher, calls “moves.”
Moves accomplish goals in the fact-checking process.
You can try these 4 moves in sequence. If you find success at any stage, your work might be done.
You are already likely to check things you know are important to get right, but it's the things you feel strongly about whether joy or anger, humans are more likely to share or use impulsively without first checking the facts.
AUTHOR NOTE: Mike Caulfield is a research scientist who has worked with various organizations on digital literacy initiatives to combat mis- and disinformation, including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project, the National Writing Project, and CIVIX Canada. He is an awardee of the Rita Allen/RTI Misinformation Solutions Prize and the author of an award-winning open textbook, “Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. He developed the SIFT method for fact-checking (Stop, Investigate, Find better coverage, and Trace claims) depicted in the box below.
Knowing the expertise and agenda of the person who created the source is crucial to your interpretation of the information provided. Ask yourself:
When investigating a source, fact-checkers read “laterally” across many websites, rather than digging deep (reading “vertically”) into the one source they are evaluating. That is, they don’t spend much time on the source itself, but instead they quickly get off the page and see what others have said about the source. They open up many tabs in their browser, piecing together different bits of information from across the web to get a better picture of the source they’re investigating.
Butler, Walter, D. Aloha Sargent, and Kelsey Smith. "Information Sources: Bias," Introduction to College Research. OER. Pressbooks. 2020. https://introtocollegeresearch.pressbooks.com/chapter/the-sift-method/
SIFT Method: developed by Mike Caulfield, Washington State University digital literacy expert
Link to more information about the SIFT Method of evaluating information below: