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Identifying Misinformation


On this page, you can find links to reliable fact-checking websites along with recommended search strategies and suggested eBooks that show how you can sort out misinformation from the facts.

Fact-Checking Websites

These sites provide a mix of services from fact-checking for news stories to online tools for learning media literacy.

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Caulfield

This free online textbook was written in 2017 by Mike Caulfield, director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University Vancouver. Taking inspiration from Sam Wineberg (co-author of "Lateral Reading," below), Caulfield recommends Four Moves and a Habit when checking for the truth of a statement.

Caulfield's Four Moves

Check for previous work

Go upstream to the source

Read laterally

Circle back

Caulfield also recommends users develop the habit to check your emotions when you have a strong reaction (positive OR negative) to a claim.


In 2021, Caulfield updated the text with new streamlined resources, reframing his Four Moves for the free online Check, Please! Starter Course and the high school/ early college curriculum, Ctrl-F Project by CIVIX. Both resources incorporate more recent case studies and use a new acronym to for Caulfield's 4-part strategy: SIFT.


Investigate the source

Find trusted coverage

Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context

For more details, follow the link below to access Caulfield's complete textbook online.

Lateral Reading by Winberg & McGrew

This 2019 paper from Teachers College Record recounts a study conducted by Sam Wineberg and Sarah McGrew that compared research habits of professional fact-checkers, historians, and Stanford University students.

In the study, fact-checkers quickly and accurately confirmed or disproved claims with lateral searching (exploring outside resources for evidence).  Historians and students, on the other hand, mostly relied on vertical searching (staying within a website to confirm its authenticity) and were often misled or took much longer to find the truth.

Wineberg and McGrew highlight three key lateral reading strategies to successfully evaluate information:

Take Bearings

Look at the context of an author or organization's work (rather than the design) and watch out for coded language

Don't rely on internal descriptions (e.g. "About Us" pages)

Use Lateral Reading

Use new browser tabs to easily search and compare web pages  

Verify claims, professional history, or company credentials from authoritative outside sources

Practice "click restraint"

Don't take top ranked Google results for granted (algorithms may promote less relevant results)

Read text previews for clues to find relevant links

Use the text search function (command + F) and hyperlinks to find content in longer pages

For more details, visit the link below and log in with your UMass Lowell account to access the complete paper.

How to Spot Fake News: COVID-19 Edition

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) created this infographic in 2021 to help users spot misinformation about COVID-19. You can use the same strategies to verify information on other topics.

IFLA - How to Spot Fake News COVID-19 Edition Inforgraphic: Consider the source, Read beyond, Supporting sources, Do others agree, Is it a joke, Check your biases, Ask the experts, Look before you share

eBooks on Evaluating Information

Cover Art for Metaliterate Learning for the Post-Truth World

Metaliterate Learning for the Post-Truth World, edited by Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson

Publication Date: 2019. This book explores the social, political, and moral aspects that impact the creation and distrubution of information. Case studies teach readers how to evaluate online information and responsibly contribute to social media.

Cover Art for A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age

A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age by David J. Helfand

Publication Date: 2016. Written by a Columbia University astronomy professor, this book teaches readers to fight misinformation by developing scientific habits like logical reasoning and “precise language.”