Skip to Main Content

Evaluating websites, news and media: Evaluate online content

Evaluate social media claims

If you first saw a story on social media there is a chance that the news may be false, biased or misleading. Check on the accuracy before sharing by checking trusted news sites for similar stories.

Think about:

  • Is the source of information reliable? Who are they?
  • Location of the person posting the content - are they in the place they are tweeting or posting about?
  • Who is in their network and who follows them? Do you know this account?
  • Can the content be corroborated from other sources?
  • What is the context of the post? Do they usually post or tweet on this topic? If so, what did past or updated posts say? Do they fill in more details?
  • What is the age of the account in question? Be wary of recently created accounts.
  • Examine any images posted and look for the original context of an image with a reverse image search.

Remember that Bots post some social media posts!

WarningAvoid using social media as a source of information unless the source is an expert in their field.

Search engines such as are useful to find information to verify or disprove social media posts. is a privacy-centred search engine that you can use to find search results.

Reverse image search

One way to check an information source is to research the images that accompany it. A fake, photo-shopped or out of context image will indicate that the information could be misleading, fake or false. Reverse image searching is also useful in tracking where an image or story originated from in order to better understand intent. These are some sites you can use to verify images to determine they have not been faked or manipulated or taken out of context. Check the image shows Google image search being used.

When can you use Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. As such, the information you will find in Wikipedia may not be of a scholarly nature, it may even be biased or incorrect. However, Wikipedia can be very useful for finding background information and for locating definitions, images and alternate keywords/synonyms that you can use in your wider information search. It can also be used to find out more about organisations or groups to help you assess the reliability of a source (detecting fake news for example).

Tips when using Wikipedia:

  • Evaluate by checking the currency, relevance, authorship and purpose of any information or images
  • Follow relevant links and references to academic sources and evaluate as above. It helps to always check the original source of any information or images in Wikipedia to determine if it is a reliable academic source
  • It is not wise to cite information that you have found in Wikipedia, however it may be acceptable to cite verified academic sources that you have located via links & references in Wikipedia articles (check with your lecturer if unsure)

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.Acknowledgement of Country

Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.