Media Literacy & Misinformation: Tips & Tools

Learn how to recognize and prevent misinformation and discover where your news comes from.

Why it Works

stick figure holding a "STOP" sign

"When humans are angry and fearful, their critical thinking skills diminish," says Claire Wardle of FirstDraft. If a news story has provoked a strong reaction in you, stop and put your critical thinking skills to work! How to Know What to Trust from the News Literacy Project is an excellent guide to developing critical thinking skills. 

Top FIBers

Top FIBers logo

In July 2023, the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University published a new tool called Top FIBers, a dashboard of disinformation "superspreaders" on Facebook and Twitter. Users can view data by month, platform, individual account or overall.

Fighting Fake


Fighting Fake logo

Fighting Fake is a "one-stop shop" website that covers key issues and concepts related to the spread of misinformation. It's an excellent starting point for those looking to learn more.

Use Fact-Checking Sites

Fact-Checking Sites & Tools

AFP (Agence France-Presse) Fact Check

Global news agency that specializes in debunking misleading content from the Asia Pacific region.

Factchequeado logo

Spanish language partnership to counteract disinformation within America's Hispanic and Latino communities. 

International Fact-Checking Network at Pointer logo

Nonpartisan international network organized by the Poynter Institute.

Lead Stories logo

Detects and debunks trending fake news and hoaxes on known fake news sites and networks, prank generators and satirical websites.

Politifact logo

Rates the accuracy of politicians' statements and claims. logo

Rates the accuracy of politicians' statements and claims.

Snopes logo

"The definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation."

Truth or Fiction? logo

Debunks propaganda, disinformation and misinformation on social media.

Fact Check Explorer logo

New tool from Google that allows rapid fact check searches.

First Draft news logo 

First Draft News Verification Toolbox is a treasure trove of tools that checks source, location and more.

Reuters logo

Reuters Fact Check is a service provided by Reuters, which is one of the world's largest global news agencies. Navigate to the Reuters homepage and search "fact check" to get started.

Adapted from:  Colby-Sawyer College Library

What is Bias?

Bias - A predisposition that distorts the ability to fairly weigh the evidence and prevents an individual from reaching a fair or accurate judgment. Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook

Image Check

Approach photos with the same skepticism you'd use on text. Scroll down for some tools that can help determine an image's original source or whether it has been edited or manipulated; you can find out more in this informative article on photo verification from the Global Investigative Journalism Network

View EXIF Data app logo

Google image logo 

TinEye app logo    

Image Edited? app logo   

Photo Sherlock -  iPhone/Android app

Fake Image Detector app logo   Fake Image Detector 

Veracity app logo   Veracity

Choose Your News

The SIFT Method


Learn to recognize misinformation using the SIFT assessment method developed by digital literacy expert Michael Caulfield, director of blended and online learning at Washington State University:

  • STOP and check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research conducted.
  • INVESTIGATE by going upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Since most web content is not original, you should backtrack to the original source of the assertion to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • FIND better coverage by reading laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim (book, article, photo, etc.), read what trusted sources say about it. Look for consensus amongst these sources.
  • TRACE the claim. Circle back to the original source and assess its context.

Check out the tutorial on using the SIFT method to learn more!

How to Beat Confirmation Bias in 5 Steps

Source: Countable

8 Tips for Debunking "Fake News"

Fact Check

Five quick ways to double-check online information

  1. If a story is too good to be true, it probably is. False and misleading stories spread like wildfire because lies can be more appealing than the truth.
  2. Use reverse image search to verify pictures. Real photographs that have not been edited at all can get reshared to fit a new narrative and spread misinformation. There are several reverse image search tools including Google Reverse Image Search. To begin, go to, click the camera icon, and either paste in the URL for an onine image, upload an image from your hard drive, or drag an image from another window. Click here and scroll down for more image search tools.
  3. Use thumbnail images to verify videos. You can take several thumbnail images from any video and use reverse image search to check whether it's been posted online before. (Use Amnesty International's new extraction tool.)
  4. Not all research is created equal. Always check with official sources (click here for some suggestions.) Just because something has a chart or a table doesn't mean it's true.
  5. Use geolocation to double-check places. Good observation skills and oniine searching can quickly check the location of a photo or video. Click here for more information; get started here.

Source: First Draft News

Quick Reference Guide

The AllSides Bias Scale

AllSides media bias scale website logo

Use the AllSides Bias Scale to view the site's rating for the political leanings of a media source. You can even weigh in with your own opinion of a source's bias rating, which is then incorporated into its patented rating system.

snapshot from the AllSides media bias website

Rate Your Bias

New from all AllSides is the Rate Your Own Bias tool, which encourages users to explore their own biases. Click the graphic below to get started!

snapshot from the Rate Your Own Bias tool

Facts Matter

portrait photo of Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

- Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan

Check Your Media Bias

Media Bias/Fact Check logo

The Center for Media & Democracy's Media Bias/Fact Check is a resource that follows a strict methodology for determining and ranking the biases of various media sources. Click here for a list of their "least biased" sources. (Note: the MU Outlook is on the list!)

2/24/20 - per Wikipedia:Reliable Sources, Media Bias/Fact Check is considered to be "generally unreliable. Editors have questioned the methodology of the site's ratings." Wikipedia Reliable Sources is a comprehensive wiki that hosts a list of sources frequently discussed and analyzed on Wikipedia; the wiki includes discussion of the context and expertise of sources in particular and is an excellent starting point for deeper analysis of media sources.

Information is not Equal

Information Sources to Avoid

The following types of information resources may be legitimate but they should not be mistaken for impartial news sources:

Opinion pieces/editorials are written by journalists or experts.

Parody/satire sites like The Onion and Borowitz Report are only intended to entertain.

Native advertising or "sponsored content" – The purpose of this content is to sell, and it's mostly found online. See some examples here.

Press releases are public relations pieces issued directly from a company or organization.

Publications by advocacy organizations or think tanks:  organizations like The Sierra Club, or the National Rifle Association produce useful materials but they also represent a particular point of view.

Adapted from: University of California Berkeley Library


Browse With Care

Browser extensions and apps

Ad-blocking extensions and apps block financial gain from "fake news" purveyors and help you avoid having your online usage tracked. Use them as you browse or when investigating suspicious sources.

Ghostery app logo

AdBlock logo

AdBlock Plus logo   AdBlockPlus

Privacy Badger logo

Site-sourcing extensions and apps that are mapped to lists of known "problem" sites can help identify suspicious content. They can be added to browsers to identify sites of legitimate news outlets as you browse.

B.S. Detector app logo

Check This Site app logo


FactLayer app logo       Fact Layer


InVID/WeVerify app logo         InVID/WeVerify


NewsGuard logo

FakerFact app logoFaker Fact

Media Bias/Fact Check logo            Media Bias/Fact Check

SurfSafe app logoSurfSafe

-Updated 8/2/22-

Using Google Reverse Image Search