Source criticism

Source criticism is difficult. Despite the difficulties, there is much you can do to develop your source criticism skills. There are steps you can take that will reduce your chance of falling for fake news. One of the most important tips is to be careful about spreading information if you are not sure that it is reliable.
Foto:Johnér/Maskot Bildbyrå

Being source critical means evaluating the information you find. Firstly, this means understanding that some sources have greater credibility than others and, secondly, being aware that the originator of the information has an objective. This text has an objective too: to raise awareness about source criticism.

Strong emotions hamper source criticism

It is well understood that strong emotions make it difficult for us to think critically and rationally. By conjuring up fear-mongering scenarios and using emotional images, those who create fake news take advantage of this human trait.


To expose fake news, we need to probe the originator’s intentions. Merely trying to assess veracity is not sufficient. Those who produce fake news do not do so with the intent of finding out what really happened. Fake news has other agendas, such as attracting users to an advertiser, promoting a certain political line or reducing a population’s confidence in society.

Spread reliable information

Fake news might contain elements of truth. It may, for example, be based on an event that really took place but omit certain crucial facts or give an explanation of the event which is false.

Genuine news may contain inaccuracies. For instance, statistics may be misinterpreted or an interviewee may be incorrectly quoted. Nevertheless, the purpose of the news is to inform you about what really happened as any inaccuracies are unintentional.

In general, we trust our friends. Sharing information that is not true on social media not only spreads falsehoods further, it also gives the information weight by having been communicated by a friend. 

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