News stories are commonly shared on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube. According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans get their news from social media sites, which can make it difficult to determine the credibility of sources.

A 2016 study by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) revealed 80% of students were unable to differentiate between a news story and paid advertisements, and overlook blatant evidence of bias in the news they view. Our “capacity for online civic reasoning is at risk,” states SHEG Director, Sam Wineburg.

Tips for Evaluating News Sources

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Evaluate before you click and share.

  • Check the URL: Be on the lookout for sites with strange domain names. Disreputable sources often use web addresses that end in “” or “lo”. Use to check who owns a domain you don’t recognize.
  • Consider the source: Who is the author, publisher or sponsor? Use the website’s “About” link to find out about the organization – who owns it and what is its mission. Be wary of sites that don’t share this information.
  • Look for visual clues: ALL CAPS and photoshopped images are red flags. Use reverse search engines like TinEye or Bing Image Match or Google Reverse Image Search.
  • Verify: Does the source include quotes, references or links? Factual information can be verified, and is often reported by a variety of news outlets.
  • Check the date: How recent is the information? Old news stories are frequently recycled on social media.
  • Get a second opinion: Be aware of the inherent bias in the media you consume. Check your bias by consulting multiple perspectives.
    • Use this Pew Report to check your chosen media’s inherent bias.
    • Use to read articles on the same subject from several sources.
  • Be wary of appeals to emotion: If a story makes you angry, it is probably designed to do so. Be wary of accusation-based stories that report on an accusation, but neither verify nor disprove it. True evidence-based reporting will open with evidence supporting or denying an accusation.
  • Consult fact-checking sites:
    • “, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.”
    • “PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida.”
    • Started in 1995 by David Mikkelson, is considered the “online touchstone of rumor research.”
  • Be leery of ads disguised as news: Is the story trying to sell you something?
  • Be skeptical: Ask yourself if a story is likely to be true. If not, check if it’s from a comedy or satirical site.



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Page Last Modified Wednesday, March 8, 2023