I talk about 90-second fact-checks and I think people think I’m a bit unhinged sometimes. What can students possibly do in that short amount of time that would be meaningful?
A lot, actually.
For example, this press release on some recent research was shared with me today:
Now I want to re-share this with people, but I’d like to be a good net citizen as well. Good net citizens:
- Source-check what they share
- Share from the best source possible
- Provide source/claim context to people they share with when necessary
To do that in this case we need to get to the source of the press release, on a site controlled by the American Psychological Association directly, and share that version of this. We also need to check that the American Psychological Association is the credible organization that we think it is. How long will this take?
Literally thirty seconds, if you know how to do it:
- Select the headline, search on it.
- First result up is from apa.org, that looks promising
- Go there, look to make sure it’s the same release
- Search Wikipedia for the site address. Find the article on the APA.
- Check to make sure the APA is a real organization.
- Check to make sure the APA web address matches
And you’re done. That may sound like a lot of steps, but each one is simple, fast, and fluid. Here are those steps executed in real time (video intentionally silent). I really encourage you to watch the video to see how ridiculously easy this is for someone with some training.
There’s really no excuse not to do this for things you share. It not only allows you to share from a more authoritative source, which is good for society and the economics of publishing, but it allows you provide your readers helpful context. Compare this:
I used to focus on students on writing longer research pieces on issues, and we still do that in various classes we work with. But just this behavior alone improves the world:
- Check what you share
- Share from the better source
- Provide a context blurb to share your own source verification with others
You don’t need to write an essay. And most any student (or teacher!) can learn the techniques. Think of it as information hygiene, the metaphorical handwashing you engage in to prevent the spread of misinformation.
Learn the skills and make the world a better place. There may be good excuses for not doing this, but time is not one of them.
(Oh, and here’s that APA press release — it’s really interesting!)