6 Ways to Tell if Your Source is Reliable

Words and illustration by: Andrea Sangco

Ever since the internet gave us the convenience of fast and real-time dissemination of information, how we communicate with our friends and loved ones changed drastically. From handwritten letters, to chat rooms and emails, and now social media and messaging apps. Modern technology has made us members of an online global village where everyone can share literally anything they find on social media.

SourceReliability1FinalTypes of Fake News 

One of the problems in today’s generation of social networking sites is the prioritization of millions of multimedia content that we see in our feeds. Since we are all short-attention spanned users to whom countless contents are presented to, we do not take the time to verify and check the reliability of information we share online. Mindlessly sharing fake news and articles from unreliable sites has its consequences such as misinformation, science denial, behavioral changes, and even mass hysteria.

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SourceReliability2FinalConsequences of sharing fake news 

There are four common types of fake news. Deliberate misinformation is written for profit and shared on social media to targeted groups of people who can easily believe that it is true. News with fake headlines, on the other hand, falsely state something as a fact even though the body of the article talks about something entirely different, or may perhaps be a bit twisted to exaggerate. Lastly, satire news or comedy news often begin with truthful stance then purposely twists the story as a commentary on society.


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6 ways to tell if your source is reliable

  1. The publication date is the basis of the timeliness and the relevance of your source which should be updated and preferably recent.
  2. The author should also willingly stand up for his/her presented information by including his/her name on the source.
  3. The source should be supported by citations and should be grounded on previous works to indicate the reliability of its information.
  4. A well-designed site also makes information more accessible and is often a good indicator of reliability.
  5. Poor spelling, typographical errors, and wrong grammar are signs that the site is not credible and reliable.
  6. Websites with links or URLs with domains .gov and .edu are more reliable than those with .com domains. You should be careful of sites with .org domain since these can have hidden agendas of persuasion.

We should keep our emotions in check when it comes to sharing loads of information sources that are presented to us. We should be aware that as a result of our activities online, posts that are related to our interests and preferences are the ones that are often targeted to us by the hidden algorithms on social networking sites we use.

Unreliable articles and fake news often spread hate, social divisions, racism and intolerance and can even be the actual cause of stigma attached to various health issues. By ensuring our sources’ reliability before sharing them, we do not only prevent misinformation, we also avoid starting unnecessary panic. Knowing that the information we share is reliable and timely, we are already one step closer to becoming informed and aware netizens who are critical when it comes to the media content we consume.