In our last class we talked about what it means to go upstream and why it is a critical move when evaluating info online. Today we’ll talk about Fact-check #1 and get some practice applying going upstream in a group activity.
WordPress and Fact-check #1
• I need to be able to find your content. When I navigate to your URL I should have absolutely no trouble seeing your fact-checking post and finding your About Me page. Check your Homepage Settings (under Design > Customize) first and make sure it is set to Your latest posts rather than a static page. This also means deleting all that filler content that WordPress supplies you with, like empty blog posts like “My first blog post.” This is noise and it makes your site look unpolished and difficult to navigate.
• Your meme should include at least one statement of fact. This helps makes your fact-check reducible and specific rather than a full-blown research paper. The following are not good memes for Fact-check #1. Can you see why?
• Move 1 is limited to using only previous work. Most obviously these include Politifact, Snopes, Factcheck.org, and Wikipedia. If you started FC#1 by Googling you are doing it wrong. If you aren’t at least telling readings that you used the site search feature in DuckDuckGo you are doing it wrong. I know you can Google. Fact-checking means that you work your way outward to the truth using a specific process — a process that starts by looking for previous work from trusted sites. I want to see that demonstrated in the first post because you’ll be using this move in all of your searches.
• Fact-checking posts should be ~700 words. Nearly all of the posts I read were undeveloped because they did not describe the context of the meme, demonstrate the moves being made via their narrated process, or were not following through with the strategies of Move 1 (or a combination of all three).
Go upstream on all news!
As I might have mentioned, while it’s fun to own the bad guys who strew fake news all over the web, the fact-checking moves we practice in this first unit apply to any and all facts that circulate online. Likewise, it’s important to be honest with your readers about this in your posts, rather than subscribing some kind of “gotcha!” narrative.
That said, fact-checking will feel more urgent when it is connected to issues that people care about. These can be cases when facts are difficult to reduce (reports on health studies), when they are dependably partisan or affect hot button issues (guns, abortion, millennials, climate change, immigration, ), or when they are in short supply or only just emerging (pandemics or disasters). Generally,then, you want to search or use hashtags keying in on social media or Google News.
Practicing Moves 1 & 2
Activity: Work in your group to find sources that might need some fact-checking. Complete the fields for your class’s Google Doc. This will prepare you to draft your second fact-check. Follow my example.
Sec 1/11:00 a.m. [link]
Sec 2/3:30 p.m. [link]
Discussion: Remember that DigiPo defines a fact as “something that is generally not disputed by people in a position to know who can be relied on to accurately tell the truth.” Given this definition, which facts on our table might be easier to check than others? What would you have to know or do in order to go about checking this fact?
Homework for next class
- Post Fact-check #2 on WordPress.
- Read about Move 3, “Reading Laterally,” in Chapters 16-30 from Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.