It’s On the Internet, So It Must Be True. Right?

Ignorance is not always bliss, especially with a world of information at our fingertips. Problem is, not all that information is factual and correct.

Say you’re developing content, but need to cite online sources (and you should!). How do you know if that information you are referencing is accurate? You already know that the French model who keeps trying to friend you on Facebook might not really be French or a model; how do you apply the same sense of scrutiny to your online research? Sharing a source riddled with inaccuracies for the world to see isn’t just a bad idea: It will hurt you and your company’s credibility for future posts.

Let’s be honest. Your job as a fact seeker is to take the few minutes needed to check that information thoroughly before you start publishing any information you’ve unearthed.

Consider the source

First, search for information from a reliable source. You are much more likely to find factual info in an article on the Wall Street Journal or New
York Times
website than on a random link to a source with which you have no familiarity.

If you do find articles or data on an obscure site, look for the author; not finding his or her name should raise red flags. However, an article can come from a credible site and still not have an author noted. This is why you must consider the source.

When an author’s name is noted, still dig deeper. Search to see if they are respected in their industry, if they are credible, or if there are any negatives attached to their stories. The internet is a massive platform that gives a mouthpiece to anyone and everyone. Opinions are typed and shared within nanoseconds. With news available at our fingertips 24/7, there’s a rush to be first, to supply “breaking news”… and often, fact-check later. All the more reason to dig a little deeper into the author and source.

Check the date

The next step is to check out the publish date. Most content has about a three-year shelf life. If you want current information and the source date says 2010, it’s simple — move on. Think about it: Are you in the same place financially, emotionally and physically that you were six years ago? A lot can change in a short time span. That’s a good reason to make sure you are using the most up-to-date information.

Article or opinion?

A final fact-checking filter is to evaluate the editorial stance of the article. Why was this written and what is the author trying to say? Is the author using the article as a means of venting or promoting a biased agenda, or do they have the hard facts and data to back it up?

In this world of instant information, take time to think about and research what you’re reading before you click the “share” button.

By Brandie Trostle Media Coordinator