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Fake News and Disinformation Guide

SIFT Method (For Quick Fact-Checking)

Transparent background with text and symbols. Text: SIFT. Stop. Investigate the source. Find better coverage. Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.

Mike Caulfield is the Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University Vancouver, with much of his research being concerned with digital literacy. He has written many books on web and media literacy, and his work has been covered by The New York Times and MIT Technology Review

The SIFT model, created by Caulfield, encourages web-users to do quick investigations into claims they see before they choose to engage with it. 

S - Stop - Caulfield includes this step to remind yourself of two things: one, stop yourself to ask if you are familiar with the website/info source and what their reputation is, and two, stop yourself from going on a tangent in your investigation (this is supposed to be a quick look!).

I - Investigate the source - Look into the personal agenda of the source. This will help you better understand the significance and trustworthiness of the source, as well as whether it's worth your time to read.

F - Find better coverage - Search for more coverage on the original article's claim. This could either be a better authority on the subject or scanning multiple sources. This is meant to get you more varied and in-depth information.

T - Trace to the original context - Try to find the original source of a claim so you can find the original context. 

(Source: HapGood) - How to Spot Fake News (For Deep Dives)

Graphic identifying eight steps for spotting fake news. Text described in caption.

In 2017, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) created this graphic based on a 2016 article written by This was in response to a large influx in discussion of fake news and disinformation in 2016. 

These steps encourage readers to be critical of news they are consuming and use critical thinking in order to assess the verifiability of articles.

Consider the source - Do some research on the source of the article. Is it a trusted news source?

Read beyond the headline - Many articles have provocative titles in order to draw in readers, so it is important to read further before deciding what the article is about.

Check the author - While you are researching the source of the article, it may be a good idea to research the author as well. Are they an authority on the subject or a trusted journalist?

What's the support? - Investigate the links and articles that are being sourced. Are they legitimate sources? Does what they claim match the other article?

Check the date - Consider when the article was published and if it matches up with other articles.

Is this some kind of joke? - There are many satirical news sites out there whose articles could be misunderstood. Often these articles are clearly labeled, or the website claims this.

Check your biases - Your own biases can make you put more trust in information that affirms your own ideas and beliefs. It is important to be objective when assessing information.

Consult the experts - If you still aren't sure or need more help, consider checking a fact-checking website or ask a librarian for help with finding information on a claim.

(Source: IFLA Repository and

Countable - 5 Ways to Beat Confirmation Bias

Previously we talked about biases and how this can impact the way we consume information/news. In this video from Countable, they discuss how to combat your own confirmation bias to find the truth.

  • Check Your Sources - Make sure you are seeking out reputable sources.
  • Get Uncomfortable - Find information on an issue from other POVs (even ones you disagree with) to get a more rounded idea of the discourse.
  • Listen - Ask questions and think about the information rather than argue with it.
  • Get Off Social Media - Because we often follow people and accounts that are like-minded to us, this isn't the best place to find alternating views on an issue.
  • Debate Yourself - Play devil's advocate with yourself to better explore an issue.