Fact or Fiction: Use the Force to Identify Reliable Information in 5 Simple Steps

Fact or Fiction: Use the Force to Identify Reliable Information in 5 Simple Steps

How do you know that everything you read is trustworthy? Or that it isn’t all made up by some random person getting their kicks at messing with others? Everyone trusted Anakin, and look how that turned out. Maybe it’s pretty obvious in some cases, or your intuition kicks in and you just know that it has to be true or false, or because someone you know personally has said that it’s right or wrong.

Misinformation spreads like wildfire. Some of it can be harmless, but more oft than not, it can be detrimental to and cause long-lasting effects on how people interact with others and respond to information in the future. As an information user, we have the responsibility to verify the trustworthiness of what we see before sharing it with others.

This sounds like it may be a lot of serious work (and we ain’t in school anymore kids!), but good news everyone! In five simple steps, you can become a more responsible information user and help discourage the spread of misinformation! Take a lesson from Luke and use the force for good. Let’s take a look at how we can do this using the CRAAP test. (Yes, that is a real acronym and it is glorious).

The CRAAP test is a tried and true method used by universities and scholars alike to determine the credibility and trustworthiness of a post, article, video, or any form of media. The acronym stands for Currency, Relevancy, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose, and using these ideas, you can gauge whether or not something may be trustworthy and credible/

Currency: Consider the timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information posted? Has it been updated recently or is it outdated?

Relevance: Consider how important the information is for your needs.

  • Who is the intended audience? Is this something you would be comfortable citing or referencing on a professional/academic level?

Authority: Consider the source of the information.

  • Who wrote or published it? What are the author’s credentials? Are they qualified to write on the topic? Is there a way to contact the author or publisher? What does the URL say about the source or author?

Accuracy: Consider the reliability, accuracy, and truthfulness of the information.

  • Where does the information come from? Is there evidence to support it? Has it been reviewed by other experts in the field or can you verify the information in another place? Is it unbiased and free from personal opinions?

Purpose: Consider why the information exists.

  • Is it meant to inform? To teach or entertain? To persuade? Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda? Are there political, cultural, religious, or personal biases?

With these simple ideas, you can determine quickly and efficiently whether something is credible or not! Use the force, and take a few seconds to Google whether something is true or not.

I referenced a guide created by Oakland University, but this tried-and-true method is used across the country by academics, scholars, and information professionals alike.

Pause, and take those 15-seconds to do a Google search. Help stop the spread of misinformation!

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