Skip to Main Content

DANCE 2390: Global Dance Perspectives: Home

How to read like a fact-checker

A 2018 Study from Standford University examined how undergraduate, PhD historians, and professional fact-checkers evaluated the credibility of online information. The study found that historians and students tended to read "vertically"--that is they scroll up and down the website to evaluate it.  If the website had a nice logo and a legitimate sounding domain name and well-designed graphs, they quickly concluded the information was credible. 

Read Laterally

Instead, fact-checkers read "laterally."  They took a preliminary glance at the website and then opened a new browser to see what others said about the source.  In fact, when looking at a  news story for credibility, one fact-checker spent only 8 seconds on a website before opening a new tab and looking up information on the organization that published the article.

Go Upstream

Next,  fact-checkers continued to turn to outside sources for the information they were evaluating--they went upstream, or they looked at what the source was sighting.  If they had hyperlinks, they followed them and evaluated those information for credibility. Are they sighting scholarly sources, experts, or legislation? Or, are they links to conspiracy theorists or fringe "experts?"  Even if an article is loaded with links, they may not tie back to helpful primary information.  It can be helpful to look for sources than bring in experts from multiple perspectives.

Acknowledge Bias

Finally, Fact-checkers acknowledge bias.  Sometimes it's obvious that an author or media source is creating content from a particular viewpoint or perspective.  Additionally, readers have their own beliefs and ideas (political, social, economic, religious, etc.) that they bring to the table as well.  A 2016 study published in Computers in Human Behavior reports that people are almost two times as likely to gravitate toward information that supports whatever they already believe.   

While we can't get rid of all of our biases (nor should we), It is important to acknowledge that we have them and that we are using them to judge information. Sophisticated readers can object to the presentation of the facts or the conclusions that the author drew without rejecting accurate data as fake news.  In other words, you don't have to like a piece of information to accept that it may be factually correct. 



Practice reading like a fact-checker

Group Articles:

Questions to Ask:

  • What is the website?
  • What do other sources say about it?
  • Who is the author?
  • What is their background/are they credible?
  • Does the website go upstream to credible information?
  • Does the website have a clear bias?

Evaluating social media content for credibility

  • Content -  Can you confirm the accuracy of the information against other sources? Can you find similar content elsewhere?
  • Reliability - Is the source of the information reliable?  Is the person who is posting the content an expert in the area? Check out their user profile to find some background information on the author. Does this person or organization have expertise in the area. Does this person, organization or root web address of their account appear in WIkipedia? Wikipedia can be a useful starting point in finding background information on a person or organization.
  • Location - where is the person sharing the information located? Is the person in the actual place they are tweeting about. 
  • Context - Does this person usually tweet/post information about this issue. Have look through their past posts.
  • Network - who follows this person? Looking at a person's followers may help confirm their credibility as a source.
  • Images - Examine any images posted. It is possible sometimes to find the original context of an image by using sites such at tineye or google images to do a reverse image search.
  • Age of Account - How long has the social media account been in operation

Applying fact-chekcing to dance videos


Take two minutes to think about how you can apply the concepts that we have talked about to Dance videos.  


Take a few minutes to discuss what  you thought about with a neighbor or two.


Share what you talked about with the rest of the class.

Checking news sources for political bias

University of Florida Home Page

This page uses Google Analytics - (Google Privacy Policy)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.