News literacy comprise developing "critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of information, whether it comes via print, television, or the Internet" (Center for News Literacy, Stony Brook School of Journalism). Today, one is inundated with information across various platforms and in diverse formats, and may find it difficult to determine the authenticity of the information. In a digital age where speed and virality accelerate the dissemination of information, the chances of inaccurate information being shared have also increased. News literacy is therefore important in order to effectively evaluate information.
In the next column you will find frameworks most useful and relevant for the discernment of fake news and false information. Some of these frameworks include SIFT and IMVAIN. In the column after you will find a curated list of fact-checking sites and online tools you can use to determine the authenticity and context of news, images, or videos that you encounter.
There are various cognitive biases that affect one's rationality and judgement. One bias that you should be particularly aware of is the confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to find and remember information that confirms our perception. Information is interpreted, favoured and recalled in a way which supports our prior beliefs or values when confirmation bias is in play. Take a step back when you encounter a piece of information and not let your emotions or preconceived ideas affect how you evaluate the information at hand. For more types of cognitive biases, refer to this infographic.
SIFT (The Four Moves) is a useful initial framework to help us evaluate the authenticity of any news.
1. Stop before reading
Ask yourself: Do I know the website or source of the information? Is the source reputable?
2. Investigate the source
Ask yourself: What is the expertise and agenda of the source? Is it significant or trustworthy?
3. Find trusted coverage
Ask yourself: How is the same news being reported in other reputable sources? Is it more in-depth or more varied?
4. Trace to the original
Ask yourself: What was the original context for the claim/quote/media? Is it accurately portrayed in this source?
IMVAIN is a more comprehensive framework to help us evaluate information.
Independent sources > self-interested sources
Who/what are the sources mentioned? Do they stand to gain anything (personal/vested interests) from publishing/supporting this article? What do they stand to gain, and why?
Multiple sources > single source
Are there other sources saying the same thing? Are there other sources disputing what is being said? If there is only one source, is there a good reason it should be trusted? If there are two or more sources, do they seem to have aligned interests in a particular outcome of the story? For example, are they related (e.g. familial relations, employer-employee) or do they have aligned political, religious, legal, or other interests?
Verified claims with evidence > rhetoric and assertions
Are there claims supported by evidence and more information? Are there claims not supported by evidence and information?
Authoritative / Informed sources > uninformed sources
Do(es) the author(s)/source(s) have the expertise to back up what they say and give their comments credibility? Are they trained in the field? Is this author/source well-informed about the specific news topic? If they were not personally there, where did they get their knowledge from?
Named sources > unnamed sources
Can you find the original source(s) mentioned in the article by searching online? If so, do they match the way they are characterised in the article? Are there any claims from anonymous people/companies?
Using TinEye, you can search by image or perform a reverse image search. You can do that by uploading an image or searching by URL. You can also simply drag and drop your images to start your search.
FotoForensics provides tools and training for digital picture analysis, including error level analysis, metadata, and tutorials.
Forensically is a set of free tools for digital image forensics. It includes clone detection, error level analysis, meta data extraction and more.