Kinda Sus: Fact-Checking Internet Sources (Part 1)

Whether you are working on a research project, looking for news about COVID-19 or the election, or just catching up on your Twitter feed, it’s important that you always fact-check the information you find.

If you aren’t familiar with Among Us, it’s a game of teamwork, trust, but ultimately, đź’€DECEPTIONđź’€ ! Crewmates work as a team on a spaceship to complete a list of tasks, but there are imposters among them attempting to sabotage their work.

Like Among Us, it’s sometimes hard to know when information on the internet is going to help us achieve our goal (be better informed) or sabotage our success (give us bad information).

To avoid being sabotaged, you can evaluate the information you find on the internet to determine if it is legit or looking kinda sus. I’m going to share two different tools (one will be my next blog post) you can use to ask yourself questions about the internet source you found to determine if it is something you should trust. These can be news website, blog, Twitter post, YouTube video, whatever!

A note for all my crewmates: you don’t need to be paranoid about everything you read on the internet! What you should be is skeptical and conduct your own Emergency Meeting in your head to evaluate what you find.

The 5 Ws

The first tool is called the 5 Ws and I bet you can guess what those 5 Ws are: Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Take a look at the internet source you found and ask yourself questions like these:

  • Who wrote (or recorded) this and are they an expert?
  • What information is included and does this information differ from other sources?
  • When was the information posted (and when was it last updated)?
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Why is this information useful for my goal?

Let’s use the example of internet sources related to Among Us:

Example 1:

If we open the first example, we can see that it is an article on the website Game Informer. If you aren’t familiar with it, clicking around the site or Googling it in a new tab will tell you this is a gaming magazine and website.

Who? We know the publication is Game Informer and the author is Lianna Rupert. We checked on the publication already, but we could search the website for information about the author to see what else she has published, or find her online to check her qualifications.

What? The article clearly identifies itself as a game review in the very beginning. This means it will be a combination of facts about the game itself and the reviewer’s opinion of the game.

When? This article was published online on September 29, 2020. This means it is very recent and up-to-date, so the information is good!

Where? The information in the review comes from the reviewer’s experience of playing the game and her personal analysis and opinion of the game. Again, this means that we need to separate the facts about the game from the author’s opinion of it.

Why? Is this information useful for your goal? It all depends on what your goal is. If you are looking for reliable reviews of Among Us by a professional gaming website, this source is great for your goal.

However, if you are looking for news from the developers of the game (see Example 3) or information about how to install it and the basics of playing, you might want to look elsewhere.

Your Turn

Take a look at the second and third examples linked above and ask the same questions. Your “Why?” question will always depend on what your goal is!

The next blog post will introduce you to evaluating online news using the ESCAPE method. See you then!

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