I saw it on Facebook so it must be true. Right?
There is so much information on the Internet. Someone will say that shampoo causes cancer, while another person will violently defend her favorite shampoo. They both have articles, quotes, and sometimes studies. Have you ever re-posted something online just to get a message from a friend letting you know that story was a “hoax”. I have and I hate feeling like I’m giving out the wrong information.
Whether it is shampoo, politics, vaccinations, or viral videos it's just difficult to know what is true anymore. So, how do you know if what we read online is true?
- Go to the Source- That means read the actual study or the actual interview. Don’t look for the edited version of the truth.
- Don’t Stop When You See What You Want To See- Look, we can all find articles that say what we want them to say. I could find an article online that says that ice cream helps you lose weight I could stop there, but I know it's not the truth. Even if I didn’t know, I should find a few more sources to corroborate the findings. That is, if I really want to know the truth.
- Don’t make it about opinion- I know, that remedy worked for your Aunt Rosa, but maybe you should ask why. Is that herb good for you because of it’s properties? Is there a better solution? Don’t completely set aside a first hand account, but every product out there has a testimony to back it up. Its up to you to decide which ones are true.
- Learn to Ask Good Questions-What is the motivation? Why are these people so adamant about their opinion? Is it because they believe it to be the truth or are they getting some sort of reward (money, status) for stating their case.
- More doesn’t mean true- I used to have a rule “don’t read the comments”. It is a rule I break every now and then and it reminds me why I have that rule. Just because a lot of people say it is so, doesn’t mean it is. There was a time when everyone said the world was flat.
- Research- You can try other websites like Snopes.com and FactCheck.com. They help, but know that they are also not infallible. Also, if you find an article that gives you information. Google to see if other articles have the exact same wording. If they do, then you are not getting multiple sources, but one that everyone else is reporting. That’s fine if its truth, but make sure that it is.
Too many people rely on what they heard to determine what is real and true. You’ve seen “experts” swear to things online. Facts and statistics can be made up or people could just be mistaken. In a world where the virtual reality becomes the reality it is a good idea to do a little researching before you repeat or re-post. At the very least, it will keep people from sending you those “you just posted a hoax” emails.