It’s getting harder and harder to determine whether the information you find online is reliable or not. With the proliferation of ‘fake news’ and people who want to scam you out of your hard-earned dollar, it’s important to stay vigilant about the information you find online. Making that determination takes a little detective work and critical thinking.
Here are some questions to help you decide if online information is reliable.
- Does the Website Creator Have Authority? Has the person who created the website written a book? Are they well-known within that industry as an expert? Do they have any marks against them for scamming people or being caught in telling a lie?
- What Organizations Is the Author Affiliated With? Anytime you read any information, including a scientific research paper, you should ask yourself who the organizations are affiliated with as well as look deep into the scientific methods used to make the determination they made. It’s not always a bad sign to be affiliated with someone who benefits from the information, but it is one sign that can spell trouble.
- Has There Been Other Similar Information Shared by Other Experts When something is factual, many other people will start using the information. If the people using it are well-known authorities, then you can probably be sure that the information is accurate, as long as those people don’t have some kind of agenda and are willing to lie.
- Do You See Clues to Bias? Many times, even with local news stories, the way they phrase information can signal a bias. Bias isn’t always a bad thing, but sometimes it can cause people to pass on or even generate inaccurate information.
- When Was the Information Published? Sometimes things change. So if it’s older information and has to do with technology, finance, or something that is known to change a lot, then you should consider the information suspect.
- Can You Find Other Sources with the Same Information? Often when you find the information, you can trace it back to the original source. This is a great way to determine whether or not something is accurate. This is because sometimes people will look at information and then interpret it incorrectly. Best to read the information from the original source.
- Does the Publisher Have Proof? When someone is making claims about something, do they show proof of those claims? If they do, can you substantiate that their proof is real or fake? If not, then consider the info suspect until you have more data.
- On What Type of Website Did You Find the Information? Today, anyone can buy a .org or a .com or a variety of other domains. So, what’s most important is who created the website. Is it a personal website, an organizational website, an educational website or something else? The more you can identify the originator and contact them, the better.
It’s important to do your due diligence to find out if information you find online is true or not. If you do this work, you can be certain that you’re not passing on poor information or getting yourself involved in a scam.
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