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Digital Citizenship: Web evaluation

Validating identity

This is information collected collaboratively in Howard Rheingold's Crap Detection Google Doc.

WhoIs: A site that lets you see information about who owns any domain on the Internet.

SearchSystems.net: An international directory of free public records.

Reverse address lookup

Phone lookup

Where is my IP: Tells you your computer IP (Internet Protocol) address

Rapportive: Chrome ext. lets you mine social media information about anyone with an email   

DeadorAliveInfo.com: Instantly verify whether a celebrity is dead or alive.

Web hoaxes and misinformation

The following information is taken from the article by Paul S. Piper, Librarian, Western Washington University, Better read that again: web hoaxes and misinformation.

A note on categories


Categories are not airtight and do overlap sometimes. The martinlutherking.org site, while in the counterfeit category, is certainly a malicious site; the Mankato, Minnesota, site is a spoof, while also being counterfeit.

A true counterfeit site is one that attempts to pass itself off as an authentic site much as a counterfeit $20 note attempts to enter the economy as currency. 

Parody and spoof sites are counterfeit sites that use humour to poke fun at an original site, product, or organisation. Parody sites are often political, and typically employ humour to get their message across. They often feature a spinoff of the legitimate name and often capitalise on URLs that seem legitimate. While their intention may be political, these sites are typically not malicious and their 'misinformation' is fairly obvious.

Malicious sites are sponsored by hate groups. These groups are well within their free-speech rights to host information on the net, disseminate information designed to be hurtful and discriminatory. Many of these sites are notorious for providing misinformation couched in quasi-academic discourse and subtle or dishonest misdirection about their intentions. 

Counterfeit websites disguise themselves as legitimate sites for the purpose of disseminating misinformation. They are not always attempts at humour or spoof. 

Fictitious websites are not primarily humorous in intent and not true parodies. 

Questionable sites often mix credible information into a mix of probable and fantasy. 

Product sites. While dot.com sites can offer reliable information, they typically compromise themselves by filtering out any information that could damage product sales. The sneakier commercial sites don't bother to mention the fact that they are selling anything, and an unsuspecting researcher can enter a site like this, extract information, and run with it, often without realising they are being given only a select set of data and facts. While the examples below are medical, all dot.com sites typically put their best face forward in an effort to sell you something. 

Subject specific misinformation. There are serious consequences in this area of unreputable websites. In particular, the consequences for the areas of health and business can be serious. Erroneous health information can have disastrous consequences. Bad business information can result in financial ruin. Health information can be checked at reliable public health sites such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Quackwatch, amongst others. 

 

 

 

 

Fake Facebook page

Can you tell that this is a fake Facebook page?

Read about it in Phil Bradley's blog.

Another fake Facebook page

Another fake Facebook page! Read about it here.

Related articles

How to tell if a photo has been photoshopped

Information Overload

Tracking internet hoaxes

The following sites are dedicated to tracking internet hoaxes and to check validity of information.

Don't Spread That Hoax

Scambusters.org  

Snopes (Rumour has it)

Vmyths (Rhode Island Soft Systems produces this site designed to counter myths and hoaxes about computer viruses.

The National Fraud Center is a consumer centre for fraud, including internet fraud.

Emergent.info  Emergent is a real-time rumor tracker. It's part of a research project with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University that focuses on how unverified information and rumor are reported in the media

Lazy Truth  Gmail/Chrome extension that automatically analyzes the validity of claims made in emails.

Hoax Slayer   Site that allows users to check whether emails are hoaxes or not.

Quote Investigator    

This blog records the investigatory work of Garson O’Toole who diligently seeks the truth about quotations. Who really said what? This question often cannot be answered with complete finality, but approximate solutions can be iteratively improved over time.”

 

 

 

 

Determining site credibility - Howard Rheingold

Evaluate these websites

Journalism - fact checking

These resources have been collectively collated on Howard Rheingold's Crap Detection website.

Checkdesk: A tool that allows journalists curate breaking news content and enables collaborative fact-checking.

Churnalism: Online tool that compares articles to a database of other articles and press releases to determine if it is original journalism.

Storyful: A tool for newsrooms - their team works to verify social media content.

HelpaReporterOut: Free subscription site that allows reporters to submit a query looking for sources.

WhoWhatWhen: Tool for historical fact checking - database of famous individuals and events from 1000 A.D. to the present.

Wayback Machine: Search engine for old website designs and screenshots.

AIDR: Free open-source platform that that filters and classifies microblog messages during a humanitarian crisis.

MediaBugs.org - service for reporting specific, correctable errors and problems in media coverage.

VerificationJunkie: a curated collection of useful resources and tools to verify facts and news online.

Verification Handbook: “a definitive guide to verifying digital content for emergency coverage.”

 

Africa Check: South African political/journalistic fact-checking nonprofit

 

Newsdiff: NewsDiffs archives changes in articles after publication

 

Ad Detector: Browser plugin that identifies articles that are paid for by corporate sponsors

 

Image evaluation

These websites have been collected collaboratively on Howard Rheingold's Crap Detector Google Doc.

FotoForensic: Online tool that allows one to check whether a photo has been Photoshopped or modified by checking compression levels in the photo.

Detecting Forged and Altered Photos: Detailed paper on photo forensic techniques. Ironically, there are a couple of broken images in the paper; also some good scientific references.

Image Edited: Similar to FotoForensic; allows for users to check whether a photo is an original or not.

TinEye: A reverse image search engine that allows the user to find out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, and how to find a higher resolution image if possible.

Google Reverse Image Search : Similar to TinEye, Google Images has the option of searching by image, which allows a user to upload any image and find images that resemble it.

Fast Image Research: Simplifies the reverse image search process by automatically retrieving search results from your choice of Google Images, TinEye, or both.

FourMatch: A Photoshop extension that analyzes any JPEG to see if it is an untouched original from a digital camera.  Costs $890.

Imgops: Free service that offers all kinds of image validation and verification tools.  

Jeffrey’s EXIF viewer:  Helps you check Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) information of any digital photo including date/time, camera settings, and, where available, GPS location.

Learn to Verify Social Media Images: From PBS includes link to verification software

Izitru - Verify whether a photo has been edited, doctored or photoshopped.

The Quality Information Checklist

Website evaluation links

Evaluating Web Pages  (UC Berkeley Library)

Evaluating internet resources (Teacher Tap)

Evaluating information found on the internet (John Hopkins University)

 

 

Evaluating websites - things to consider

The Web is a valuable information source, but for the purposes of academic research, you must select reliable sites. Information may be biased toward a particular ideology or may have a commercial purpose. Here are some hints for determining the reliability of a website and its appropriateness for your research.

Examine the URL

Web addresses (URLs) often take the form www.server.xxx/file.html. The three letters (usually) after the server name indicate the domain. Sites in the domains .edu, .gov, or .org are likely to be more reliable for research than those ending in .com.

Sometimes it is not apparent who is responsible for the website. Try shortening the URL so that it ends with the domain. This will often reveal the identify of the hosting organization.

Authorship & Authority

Ask yourself not only "who wrote this?" but "why should I care what he writes?" Look for the author's identity and also any information about his educational background, professional credentials, etc. This information can often be found under an "About Us" link.

Does the Site Cite?

Scholarly discourse is characterized by continual reference to previous scholarly discourse. Does the site say where its information comes from? Can you actually track down the primary sources?

No Site is an Island

To whom does the site link? Who links to the site? To find out who links to a website, you can either do a Googlesearch in the form "link:www.somesite.com" or paste the site's URL into alexa.com. The site itself may look respectable, but what about its friends and neighbors?

Is the Site Older than You?

Is the information on the site current? Can you find a "last updated" statement? If references are listed, how old are the most recent ones? Are there a number of dead links?

It's All Relative

We cannot simply classify websites as "good" or "bad"—it all depends on the purpose for which it is used. The website for a group advocating the legalization of marijuana may be valuable as an example of the arguments used by proponents of that cause, but its statements about the health benefits of the herb should be taken with a grain of salt.

Source: Ithaca College Library

Subject guide created by

contact Tania Sheko