Lateral vs. Vertical Reading
From the context of fake news, vertical reading involves examining the news source to determine the credibility of a news story. This could mean examining a news website's About Us page, looking at grammatical errors within the article, determining the author's bias, and checking the sources the authors used. However, depending solely on vertical reading can be problematic since content is easily created and fabricated online.
In addition to using vertical reading, another method of evaluating news is lateral reading. This involves going beyond the news source and performing further research on the news source, its authors, and information being presented in the news story.
Source: Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information; Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com
Tips for Reading Laterally
Investigate the source
Look at what others are telling you about the news source/author and not what they're saying about themselves. Tip: Search the source and author's name to see what types of sites are referencing them or what they're saying about them.
Go Upstream: Find the Original Source
Trace back to the original reporting source of the data or information. Once you've figured out the original source, you can then proceed with verifying its credibility.
Look for Trusted Sources
Check out fact-checking sites (see Tools for examples) to see if these sites have checked the news story. Fact-checking sites can save you time since they have already done the verification work. Consider traditional news sources, such as newspapers. If you're unsure about a news story found in a source you're not familiar with, you can search online to see if the story has been covered by major news sources.
Practice "Click Restraint"
Before clicking on a search result, examine the URL and information snippets about the source.
What are Filter Bubbles?
Filter bubbles are created by algorithms and dictate what we see online. These personalized filters may be based on a combination of different elements, such as our search history, the websites we visited, the posts we comment on, or our location. These algorithms impact the content of our "information diet".
As users, we don't have much control on what gets into our filter bubble, and more importantly we don't know what gets edited out by these algorithms. Filter bubbles could feed us an information diet with mostly "information desserts" and not much "information vegetables". It poses the danger of intellectual isolation where we only see information that reinforces our views, or information that is within our comfort zones. This could potentially hinder our ability to think critically about a topic since algorithms have the power to edit out content which challenges or broadens our worldviews.
Tips for Breaking Out of Your Bubble
Follow Different Voices
Get a balanced information diet by seeking different perspectives of a topic, such as viewing sites that cover diverse perspectives or viewing social media feeds that offer a more balanced viewpoint.
Use incognito browsers, regularly delete your search histories, and if possible, try to use the Internet without being logged into social media accounts.
Browser cookies are files saved into our browsers which determines what we see on a particular website. Consider deleting your cookies in your browser(s) frequently.
Sources: 3 ways to break out of your social media bubble by Mozilla; The devastating impact of filter bubbles and how to break free by Justin Brown; How filter bubbles distort reality: Everything you need to know; Icon made by Smashicons from www.flaticon.com
Check Your News
Fact-checking websites can be useful tools in determining if a news story is accurate. These sites perform the fact-checking by reviewing the story's claims and verifying the validity of the information and authors. Check out some of these fact-checking websites.