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Media Literacy Guide: Social Media

Determining what is fake news is necessary and can be difficult. This research guide's purpose is to explain steps for finding the facts, how to use one's judgment and give examples for clarification.

Social Media - What is it?

"If you are not paying for the product, then you are the product"

~ Quote from the Netflix Documentray "The Social Dilemma" (2020)

Use the following links to understand what is meant by 'social media' and its impact on society.

  • Social Media from Wikipedia (article cannot be altered)
  • Social Media - Topic Page from Credo Online Reference (access requires a SVC logon & password)
  • Social Media by the Numbers from Facts on File: Issues and Controversies (access requires a SVC logon and password)

Jacob Silverman calls for social media users to take back ownership of their digital selves from the Silicon Valley corporations who claim to know what's best for them. Integrating politics, sociology, national security, pop culture, and technology, he reveals the surprising conformity at the heart of Internet culture, explaining how social media companies engineer their products to encourage shallow engagement and discourage dissent. Reflecting on the collapsed barriers between our private and public lives, Silverman brings into focus the inner conflict we feel when deciding what to share and what to "like," and explains how we can take the steps we need to free ourselves from its grip.

Connection between Social Media and News

The following links are to articles and websites that discuss the connection between social media and fake news, false news, and alternative facts.

SIFT method for evaluating information in a digital world

Check Your Feed with SIFT (the four moves - Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace)


  • Take a breath, check your reaction, pause, re-evaluate.
  • Ask yourself if you are certain the information is true.
  • Don't re-post, use, or share until you verify. 


  • Look at the source. Who created the information?
  • Look into who is behind the post and think about why they might post that information.
  • Try looking in Wikipedia or on a fact checking site for the name, company, organization, story, or publisher. Or Google it!
  • Learn about the expertise, education, and/or the agenda of the producer of the information.

two hands holding a shield with a check mark in it FIND BETTER COVERAGE:

  • If checking the source brings you to a questionable place, try looking in other, more reliable sources for similar information.
  • Look beyond the first few results.
  • Check in at least 2 different places.
  • If the information shows up in several reliable places, it is likely to be accurate.


  • Trace the content back to the original source.
  • Check the full context of the information -- was something left out or not included? 

Tracking Social Media

News, stories, hoaxes spread like wildfire through social media.  The following sources are intended to show what is on social media and how to determine it's spread and reliability.

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