Fact vs. fiction

fake news on newspaperThere is a lot of information circulating around right now. The internet makes information available at the click of a button, but sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate what information is real and what isn’t.

Below are some tips for helping you navigate finding the truth in a world where fake news, Facebook articles, and word of mouth travel fast.

1. Check your sources

Make sure the information you are receiving is from a credible source. Something from a friend of a friend or an article on social media might require some further internet sleuthing. For information on COVID-19, it is always helpful to compare what you’re hearing to official sources including Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta’s COVID-19 Information. Even if something is attributed to an official source, it is always beneficial to look for the original source before believing it.

2. Ask questions

We can’t know everything all the time! In fact, many experts right now don’t have all the answers. If you hear something you’re not sure whether to trust, ask for more information or clarity. Contact professors, Residence Services or other trusted sources to learn more. A good place to start is the frequently asked questions for current residents, where you can see what others are asking.

3. Separate facts from opinions

Trusted news is unbiased when presenting facts and information. Ask yourself whether the information you are receiving comes from a specific point of view—if it is, it may be less than the full truth.

4. Understand your context

Things that are true in specific cases or situations may not be true everywhere. Over the past few months, we’ve seen many different responses to the current COVID-19 crisis. With public health orders, government support and recommendations for staying safe, analyze the intended audience for each piece of information and whether or not it is applicable to you.

5. Talk with family and friends about how to responsibly share information

We are bombarded with messaging every day about the world’s current situation (among other things!). Communicate with your loved ones to not always believe everything we hear without doing further research.

We all have the ability to stop the spread of misinformation and support each other through these current challenges. A great website to explore with friends and children is Media Smarts, which features an online game to help you determine fact and fiction in online news.