At NOWCastSA, we try to make the world a better and more sensical place by empowering people to separate facts from crap - to distinguish the real and the true from the misinformation, disinformation and sometimes deliberately deceptive information circulating online.
We teach free workshops in Crap Detection. You can request an age-specific workshop for students in middle school, high school, young adult, parents or seniors by clicking here to tell us more.
Want to find out of a Twitter account is real, use this handy GUIDE: How to verify a Twitter account. Wondering if Donald Trump's Tweets are truthful? Now you can fact-check them using a Chrome or Firefox extension, thanks to the Washington Post. During the 2016 presidential election, many people fell for fake news. See if you can spot the fake news stories by taking this quiz by The Guardian.
This is a toolbox for the good Netizens - citizens of the Internet - who are concerned with testing the accuracy and credibility of online information and helping float the good stuff and sink the crap.
The right tools make it easy. As the writer, artist and online instigator Howard Rheingold said in his seminal Crap Detection 101, “The hard part, as always, is the exercise of flabby think-for-yourself muscles.” Howard and his network compiled this amazing list of 100+ resources for Crap Detection.
Publisher Tim O'Reilly also gives some useful tools in his article, How I Detect Fake News.
Here are some questions to ask and tools you can use to check the credibility of online information:
Who is the author? If no author is listed, the information doesn’t pass the first sniff test. If an author is listed, search the name to see the author’s digital footprint. What else has the author written and what has been written about her or him? Are those sources credible?
Tip: generally sites whose addresses end in .edu, for educational institution, and .gov, for government institution carry higher credibility.
If it is a news site, does it clearly disclose ts funding sources? Does it acknowledge and correct errors? Does it have a Code of Ethics? An Editorial Independence Policy? (Here are the Terms of Service at NOWCastSA)
Who is behind the website? The site WhoIs lets you find out who owns the domain by copying a url into the WhoIs search field.
Are the claims or facts backed up, or attributed? Does the story link out to credible sources? Here’s one good example of linking OUT from a story and here’s another good example of linking out from NOWCastSA.
Another measure of credibility is to find out who links TO the site. You can check the quality of those backlinks at Backlinkwatch.com
Has that photo been Photoshopped or modified? FotoForensics will help you find out and Image Edited will also let you know if the photo has been edited. Google Images has a Reverse Image Search that lets you upload an image to find similar images. TinEye also has a Reverse Image Search.
What about that email your Aunt just sent with the eye-popping story?
First, run it by Snopes, a search engine that debunks or verifies urban legends, myths, and misinformation.
Chrome has a browser extension called Lazy Truth that automatically analyzes the validity of claims made in emails.
Who can help you tell the truth from the bull in politics?
Check out VoteSmart.org, whose mission is to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans.
PolitiFact uses a “Truth-O-Meter” to rate the accuracy or falsehood of politicians’ statements. In Texas, the bull quotent is sufficiently high that the state has its own PolitiFact based in Austin. Just as his predecesser before him, the Texas Governor has is very own "Abbot-O-Meter" on Politifact
The Fact Checker, a nonpartisan Washington Post blog checks the accuracy of claims by politicians and advocacy groups.
You can also check FactCheck.org to find out whether a politician’s statement is true.
Is it real, or is it a scam?
Fraud.org is a National Consumers League project lets people file complaints, find out about the latest scams and offers prevention tips to help you avoid being a victim.
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that conducts unbiased product testing and ratings, research, journalism, public education, and advocacy. You can get online access with your San Antonio Library card.
Ask questions and be critical
Editors note: this story will be updated as we receive and vet additional information. If you have something to add, please click here and send us an email.