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Be Your Own Fact Checker: Websites

Not sure what's fake and what's real in the news media? We can help! This guide will provide tools and resources for making good information choices.

Reliability of Websites

Ask yourself these questions when determining the reliability of a website.

1. Who is responsible for the site? 

               Is there an author? What are his or her credentials? Is the “author” an organization or association?

2. What type of site is it? 

               .edu = educational

               .org = organization

               .gov = government

               .net = network/utilities or internet service provider

               .mil = military

               .com = commercial

3. When was the site created or updated?

               Keep in mind that an automated date does not indicate when the information was updated.

4. Where can you find more information?

               Is there contact information other than an email address? Is there documentation for factual statements, assertions, and second-hand information? Are there links to other viewpoints, if applicable?

5. Why was the site created?

               Is the goal to sell? To Persuade? To advocate an agenda? To inform? What advertisements, if any, are there? Do they relate to the site?

More About Types of Websites

There's more to web addresses than we typically think. The end of the URL or web address is called the domain name. Looking at the domain name is one way to tell what the website is about. It might give you an idea of why the site was produced.

Business Presence 
These websites are trying to sell something, their addresses end in .com(commercial)

  •  Amazon (www.Amazon.com)

Advocacy   
Generally this domain name is used for non-profit organizations, but they still are pushing an agenda so be cautious. Their web addresses end in.org (organization)

  •  PETA (www.peta.org)

Education/Government 
These websites present factual information,their addresses end in .edu or .gov (education or government)

  •  Spoon River College (www.src.edu)
  •  State of Illinois (www.illinois.gov)

News
These sites present current information. Their web address often ends with .com (commercial)

  • The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)


Search Tip It is still important to evaluate sites ending in .org and .edu, just because they are not .com sites, doesn't mean they might not be published by an individual.  Be critical about what you are reading.