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Four Moves to Avoid Misinformation

Learn how to use the SIFT method to evaluate sources online and steer clear of misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information!

Vocabulary

Disinformation - Deliberately false information.

Malinformation - Truthful information used to damage or damage by implication. An example might be leaks timed to damage.

Misinformation -  Erroneous or incorrect information. Misinformation may not always be deliberate; it's just wrong or mistaken.

Source: Wardle, C., & Derakhshan, H. (2017). Information disorder: toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making. Council of Europe.

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Introduction to SIFT

 

 

 

SIFT is a method you can use to evaluate information you see in social media, the news, and online to help you differentiate between factual news and misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information. This Infographic shows the steps of SIFT: Stop, investigate the source, find trusted coverage, trace claims, quotes and media to the original context. 

We'll go more in-depth with each step using the individual links to pages on the upper left-hand side.  But for now, here are the steps, with links to the pages. You can use this as a table of contents to navigate through the different steps.

Step 1: Stop! Think Before you Share

Step 2: Investigate the Source

Step 3: Find Trusted Coverage

Step 4: Trace Back to the Source

 

The CRAAP test is an evaluation tool used for many years. Recent criticism questions its effectiveness against evaluating content with misinformation. SIFT is a horizontal search (including lateral reading to find context), while CRAAP is more of a vertical search of a single website.


Currency - The timeliness of your source

  • How old is this source?
  • Is a date listed?
  • Is the information current or outdated for your topic?
  • Does your topic deal with recent issues (technology, medicine, etc) that need the latest information?

Relevancy -How the source meets your information need

  • Is this source useful for my topic?
  • Does the information help to answer or shed light on my research question?
  • Is the language/information appropriate for my level of understanding? Who is the intended audience?
  • Is this an appropriate source for a college paper?

Authority - Who or what the information comes from

  • Who is the author/publisher/sponsor of the source?  Is this hard to find?
  • Is the author or publishing organization an expert on the topic?  What are their credentials?
  • Are they qualified to write about this topic?
  • Is the source published, sponsored, or endorsed by a special interest group?
  • If it's a website, is it hosted by a for-profit company (.com) by a non-profit organization (.org), by an educational institution (.edu) or by the government (.gov)?  

Accuracy -The reliability and accuracy of the information

  • Do you notice any factual errors? Math or calculation mistakes? Statements that contradict each other?
  • Is the information presented supported by evidence?
  • Does this source say things that can't be verified?
  • Has the source been reviewed or refereed?
  • Are there lots of typos, spelling and grammatical errors?

Purpose -The reason this source exists

  • What is the purpose of the source? To inform? Teach? Entertain? Sell something?  Persuade?
  • Does the source present facts, opinions, or propaganda?
  • Are different perspectives on the issue presented? Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Source: Blakeslee, S. (2004) "The CRAAP Test," LOEX Quarterly: (31) 3.https://commons.emich.edu/loexquarterly/vol31/iss3/4
 

Adaptation Note

Note: The educational content on this page has been adapted from the Check, please! online course. The reuse of this material has been made possible by a Creative Commons license and is free for reuse and revision. See the included note for more information from the original authors.