If you had to guess, how many websites do you think there are in the whole world, right now?
If you said 1.5 billion, you would be correct—and that number just keeps going up. And 200 million of those sites are actively updated with new information all the time—so it’s safe to say that there is a lot of data at our fingertips, anytime we want it. But not everything out there is factual. Some news outlets are biased, some influencers are sponsored by companies to promote products, and sometimes even video and audio can be changed to serve a person’s interests. Spooky, right? That’s the wild west of the Internet!
It’s important to know how to tell if what you’re getting is based in truth, not opinion or guesswork. This is true for information about marijuana, too. There is a lot of research-backed information out there, and a lot of loose claims too. Use the tips below to help separate fact from fiction. The You Can site is a good start. We hope you check out our Sources page if you don’t believe us!
Instead of just trusting something you read or hear, there are ways to confirm if something is worth believing.
- Recognize the red flags. If someone is using language that is intentionally designed to upset or stir up feelings of anger or fear, there is a good chance they are speaking with bias. Or if people make claims but cannot provide evidence, they may not be totally honest or they may be providing a “spin” on the information available. “Spin” is when someone intentionally uses language or images that skew the truth to achieve a personal goal.
- Check the outlet’s reputation. There are newspapers, TV and radio programs, and organizations committed to telling the truth as best they can without any bias. Good reporters and researchers work hard to maintain a certain level of ethics and integrity. If an outlet is known for publishing information that’s not always fact-checked, they might not be a trusted source.
- Read the author’s bio. If you’re ever unsure of someone’s potential bias, read their bio, which can often illuminate how they spend their time and their beliefs.
- Look at the sources. A good article or resource will provide insight into where information comes from or how authors came to the conclusion they did through research. Checking sources is a good way to assess whether the information is backed by evidence. This is also a great way for you to learn the information from the original source so you can form your own opinion.
- Corroborate. That’s a fancy way of saying verify—meaning, if you’ve got questions about an article’s sources, see if others are sharing similar information elsewhere or reporting the same data.
We get that it can be tough to figure out what’s fact and what’s fiction, but keep these tips handy and you’ll be a savvy consumer of online information in no time.
There are plenty of handy tools out there that are devoted to highlighting media bias and fact-checking information. Here are just a few trusted sites you can use to fact-check what you read online: