What's the best way for teens to fact-check the news?

The good news is you probably don't have to convince teens to fact-check the news. According to Common Sense Media's report, News and America's Kids: How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News, kids generally care about the news and want to be informed. Kids who get their news on social media say they pay attention to the source a link takes them to. But they admit that they can't always tell fake stories from real ones. Kids genuinely need our help in sussing out the truth.

With so many accusations of "fake news" going around, it may feel like fact-checking is pointless. In fact, it's never been more important to dig deeper into the accuracy of stories. Thankfully, a few organizations are stepping up their efforts to limit false articles. A pilot program from Facebook (which is the No. 1 source of news for kids who get their news online, according to News and America's Kids) would label stories "disputed" if fact-checking agencies couldn't verify it. Google is banning iffy sites from using its ad network.

Here are some more ways teens can fact-check the news:

  • Look it up. These fact-checking resources will tell you whether something is true, false, or somewhere in between.
  • Check the author's bio. A reputable source will have information on the author's qualifications. If not, Google the name and see what you find.
  • Expand a shortened URL. Services such as Unshorten.It! and checkshorturl let you plug in a shortened URL, such as those used on social media sites, so you can get some intel on the link before you click it.
  • Get out of the loop. Facebook, YouTube, and other social media never send you off their sites. To fact-check stories, you have to see what other sources are reporting.
  • Search headlines. If you think a headline is suspicious, copy and paste it into Google. If it's fake, you'll see links to sites that have debunked the story already.
  • Do an image search. Google Images lets you upload a photo or paste in a link to search for information about it.
  • Look for a verified account. It's easy for hucksters to create bogus profiles to impersonate famous people and send out phony information. Social media services including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest offer "verified accounts" of notable names including those of celebrities, brands, public figures, and media personalities so you'll know when the information is coming from the correct source.
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