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How you can fact-check the articles and news you see on social media

Posted at 5:41 AM, Jan 27, 2021

(WXYZ) — This week is News Literacy Week and we've made a commitment to highlighting how you can avoid falling for misinformation.

There are growing resources to make fact-checking easy for anyone, but some people are resistant to quickly verifying information before sending it to someone else.

Everywhere you look, information is being presented to you. Now more than ever, we have become aware that the information is not always accurate.

"Information is the basis for all of the decisions that we make. And so if we base decisions and ideas off of bad information it can distort the democratic process and damage our communities and our families," Peter Adams with the News Literacy Project said.

The group is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that provides resources for students and the public to learn how to sort through new information.

"First step I would say is to pay attention to where you are in the information ecosystem. So if you’re watching standard space news, you at least know some processes of verification have taken place there," Adams said.

He added that with news on social media, it's mostly user-generated content and you may not know who produced the information.

Regardless of where the information comes from, it should be fact-checked. And that is something that has become quicker and easier to do.

"Checking the comments can actually be a great way if something seems a little too on the nose, or it is making you really angry or fearful or you are having a strong emotional reaction," he said. :So, pause check the comments if you don’t see anything in the comments do a quick google search. You can do that in about 45 seconds."

There's also a growing list of credible websites dedicated specifically to fact-checking information.

One of the oldest is Snopes.com. On the homepage you'll see new headlines already researched and fact-checked. You can also use the search bar to fact-check something on the main page that you may have come across. Simply type the headline or pose it in a question form.

”In the same way that there is a social good to showing some restraint with your garbage and not throwing it in the street," he said. "If everybody took one minute before they shared something, they weren’t sure about, we could eliminate a lot of pollution in our information streams.”