Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

By Michael Arthur Caulfield
Book Description

The web is a unique terrain, substantially different from print materials. Yet, too often attempts at teaching information literacy for the web do not take into account both the web’s unique challenges and its unique affordances.

The web gives us many such strategies and tactics and tools, which, properly used, can get students closer to the truth of a statement or image within seconds. For some reason we have decided not to teach students these specific techniques. As many people have noted, the web is both the largest propaganda machine ever created and the most amazing fact-checking tool ever invented. But if we haven’t taught our students those capabilities is it any surprise that propaganda is winning?

This is an unabashedly practical guide for the student fact-checker.  It supplements generic information literacy with the specific web-based techniques that can get you closer to the truth on the web more quickly.

We will show you how to use date filters to find the source of viral content, how to assess the reputation of a scientific journal in less than five seconds, and how to see if a tweet is really from the famous person you think it is or from an impostor.

We’ll show you how to find pages that have been deleted, figure out who paid for the web site you’re looking at, and whether the weather portrayed in that viral video actual matches the weather in that location on that day. We’ll show you how to check a Wikipedia page for recent vandalism, and how to search the text of almost any printed book to verify a quote. We’ll teach you to parse URLs and scan search result blurbs so that you are more likely to get to the right result on the first click. And we’ll show you how to avoid baking confirmation bias into your search terms.

In other words, we’ll teach you web literacy by showing you the unique opportunities and pitfalls of searching for truth on the web. Crazy, right?

This is the instruction manual to reading on the modern internet. We hope you find it useful.

Read online at Pressbooks.

Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright
  • Table Of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Four Strategies and a Habit
    • Why This Book?
    • Four Strategies
    • Building a Fact-Checking Habit by Checking Your Emotions
  • Look for Previous Work
    • How to Use Previous Work
    • Fact-checking Sites
    • Wikipedia
  • Go Upstream
    • Go Upstream to Find the Source
    • Identifying Sponsored Content
    • Activity: Spot Sponsored Content
    • Understanding Syndication
    • Tracking the Source of Viral Content
    • Tracking the Source of Viral Photos
    • Using Google Reverse Image Search
    • Filtering by Time and Place to Find the Original
    • Activity: Trace Viral Photos Upstream
  • Read Laterally
    • What "Reading Laterally" Means
    • Evaluating a Website or Publication's Authority
    • Basic Techniques: Domain Searches, WHOIS
    • Activity: Evaluate a Site
    • Stupid Journal Tricks
    • Finding a Journal's Impact Factor
    • Using Google Scholar to Check Author Expertise
    • How to Think About Research
    • Finding High Quality Secondary Sources
    • Choosing Your Experts First
    • Evaluating News Sources
    • National Newspapers of Record
    • Activity: Expert or Crank?
    • Activity: Find Top Authorities for a Subject
  • Field Guide
    • Verifying Twitter Identity
    • Activity: Verify a Twitter Account
    • Using the Wayback Machine to Check for Page Changes
    • Finding Out When a Page Was Published Using Google
    • Using Google Books to Track Down Quotes
    • Searching TV Transcripts with the Internet Archive
    • Using Buzzsumo To Find Highly Viral Stories
  • Field Guide (Unfinished Articles)
    • Unfinished Articles
    • Finding Out Who Owns a Server
    • Finding Out When a Site Was Launched
    • Avoiding Confirmation Bias In Searches
    • Finding the Best Possible Opposition
    • Advanced Wikipedia
    • Promoted Tweets
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