Living in a world of 24/7 news and social media may make it more difficult to determine the actual facts about an event. Fast-moving crisis situations are particularly prone to generating misinformation, such as rumors, inaccuracies, and theories or speculation.
When you first learn about a news event, keep these points in mind:
- Consider the source. Is the information coming from a reputable news outlet or verifiable source? If you are watching an interview or speech, has the person provided supporting facts to back their assertions?
- Acknowledge your biases. Your personal political and social preferences strongly influence how you react to a news story. Before responding with outrage, learn as many facts as you can.
- Check the date. If you are reading an older news story or post, search for follow-up stories to learn whether the situation has been resolved.
- Read past the headline. Often, headlines are written to attract attention or focus on the worst-case scenario. Read the story in full to learn the actual facts.
- Verify using multiple sources. It’s a good idea to visit at least two or three different outlets to verify facts and compare details.
Do your research. Complex world events are difficult to understand from soundbites and social media posts. Take the time learn about the subject in more detail.
- Watch for parodies. Parody news and social media accounts are sometimes mistaken for legitimate sources.
- Set limits. Too much time on news or social media sites can be stressful. If you are feeling overwhelmed, step away and engage in a relaxing activity for a while.