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Fake News and Alternative Facts: A Guide to News Literacy

A guide to developing critical thinking skills for news literacy

"Four Moves" Method

  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally: Read laterally. Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  • Circle back: If you get lost, or hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.


Evaluating Digital Sources Using Lateral Reading

To dig a little deeper into reading laterally from the SIFT method above, take the Evaluating Digital Sources Using Lateral Reading tutorial from Credo.


Tutorial: Evaluating Digital Sources Using Lateral Reading

The CRAAP Test

The critical evaluation of information is an essential skill that can be used throughout your life. It involves a combination of common sense, knowledge, skepticism, and verification.With so much information available, in many different formats, and from many different sources, each piece of information that you select must be carefully reviewed or evaluated to ensure the quality, authority, perspective and balance that best supports your research. But what do you look for? It can be overwhelming.

The CRAAP Test is a set of five evaluation criteria and related questions to help guide thinking about whether a source is credible or not.  CRAAP is an acronym for:

(CRAAP acronym used courtesy of Meriam Library, California State University, Chico)

Publication Credibility

Not all sources of information are created equal. In addition to the reputation for reliability and impartiality, critical thinkers need to consider format. Online news sources can appear, at first glance, to be legitimate but it is quite simple to create a fake or untrustworthy online presence. Clues to authenticity include: 

Publication Affiliations

Purpose/Mission Statement

Author Credentials

Contact information

The absence of broken Links

Currency (Last updated) 


Facebook is for Friends, Not for News

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

A Glossary of Fake News- adapted from Oxford English Dictionaries