Vetting Information you read on the internet

Hi friends!

I realized that because of the certain set of skills I have been honing at work for the last decade I have some quick ways of vetting websites for content accuracy that the average non-nerd (read cool person) hasn’t been exposed to. So read ahead for a quick summary of how I vet web media outlets. <3 you all.

For anyone interested in how to quickly vet websites as to their reliability:

  1. Suspect there might be some bias in an article. This most easily done by starting to question any article that agrees too perfectly with your pre-existing opinion. If it is just confirming what you think it needs extra questioning to avoid confirmation bias.
  2. Look at the site posting that article to see what else they have posted. Evaluate if those articles seem reliable
  3. open a terminal and run `whois domain-name-goes-here` look at the results for age and location of registration. if the terminal isn’t your speed try this website: https://whois.icann.org/en. Location is probably hidden, doing so is cheap and easy. But definitely look for a short registration period, and recent creation date. Both of those are red flags of a throw away site being used to manipulate opinion.
  4. Find a particularly salient passage of text, copy it, paste it into google, wrapt it with double quotes to force exact matches, and look at the results. Does it look like a network of sites posting the exact same thing? If so this is likely an attempt to mislead people/influence public opinion. If this turns up any sites that seem unreliable that should be another red flag for you.
  5. If any of the above raised red flags, don’t share it, don’t post it, forget that you read it. It is most likely someone trying to cement false information in the public’s mind.

And seriously if one of the sites that is in the network that google search returns is ufomania.com, that should be the only red flag that you need.

One last thing: This isn’t about liberal or conservative. This is about recognizing truth wherever it is. See an article you don’t trust? Expose it. See an article you do? Verify it. Truth is the only thing that matters. Seek it.

PS: I should have mentioned this: make sure that you copy and paste the domain. There are a lot of characters in the UTF-8 character set (sorry nerd talk) that look like other characters. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDN_homograph_attack for nerd details. But just know that ’A’ and ’А’ are not the same character.

Published: 3 Dec 2017 | Tags: truth , information