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Evaluating Sources: Credibility & Bias

What is MDI?

Misinformation and Disinformation: A Guide for Protecting Yourself

False news is not a new concept.  It’s just a new phrase describing an old problem that has always existed in some form or another.   It has wormed its way into the national discourse through counterfeit news outlets, bogus print publications, and social media.  False news refers to text, social media posts, images, videos, websites (counterfeit, imposters, propaganda, etc.), advertisements, and anything else that can be manipulated or used out of original context.  There are many types of misleading news; however, MDI (misinformation/disinformation) is the most prevalent. 

  • Misinformation is spread by those who believe it is true or could be true without verification.  It is the most difficult to identify because it often contains a kernel of truth taken out of original context and then sensationalized. Misinformation Red Flags
  • Disinformation is intentionally spread by those (including cyborgs, bots, sock puppets, and trolls) who know the information is false.  It reflects a deliberate attempt to deceive for the purpose of persuasion, influence, or profit.  Deliberate omissions of the complete truth, hoaxes, lies, and propaganda are intentionally disguised in order to make identification difficult.  This also includes ads presented as news stories, content from cyborgs, bot networks, and troll factories, as well as manipulated videos known as deepfakes, shallowfakes, cheap fakes, and dumbfakes.   Cheap Fakes vs. Deepfakes

The only way to stop the spread of false and misleading news is to exercise a healthy dose of informed skepticism and follow the “when in doubt, then don’t” rule.  Don’t use information in an assignment, post it on social media, or relay it to others in any way that implies truth, if you suspect it is not completely truthful.

Evaluation Tools

Learning how to evaluate what you read, view, and hear is an essential skill for your academic and personal life.  

Fact Checking Websites

Media Bias

Untrustworthy Journals (Predatory Publishers)

Cabell's Predatory Reports helps researchers and potential authors identify journals that are published using questionable, suspicious, or deceptive strategies.

Journals listed in this directory are designated as predatory.  Predatory publishers lie about their business practices for the purpose of pure profit; or in other words, they publish anything submitted by authors willing to pay the article processing fees.  The most common lies involve:

  • peer review practices
  • editorial board members
  • organizational affiliations
  • impact factors

Predatory publishers manufacture journal content that contaminates and undermines the trustworthiness of scholarly academic publishing.