Imagine that you're reading an article online — maybe even looking at a Byte. You may ask yourself:

Why did the author create this?

Flaticon Icon Knowing what the author, site, or sharer wants from you will help you decide what you should trust.

Why Purpose Matters

The purpose of a source is linked to what the author or sharer wants from you.

It can be clear and stated upfront. It's also possible that the information was shared to manipulate you into buying something, thinking, or acting a certain way, by sharing limited, biased, or falseinformation.

Flaticon Icon If you can't tell why someone might share something, you should look for other sources.

How To Determine The Purpose Of A Source

Flaticon Icon Look at:

  • who the author is, their other work, and their reputation

  • where the source is posted

  • who shared the source

  • the relationship between the author, site, and person who shared the source

Flaticon Icon Think about:

  • why the author wrote this source

  • which site posted this source

  • who the author wants to reach

  • what the author wants the audience to know, think, or do with the information they shared

Questions To Ask

Flaticon Icon

  • What does the author, site, or sharer want from me?

  • How does the author, site, or sharer benefit from me using this source?

  • Does this source's purpose match other sources like it?

  • What biases do the author, site, and sharer have?

Quiz

You should be cautious about a source if:

Identify Possible Concerns

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Determine why the information was shared and decide if it matches the stated intent. Think carefully to see what the author, site, and sharer believe.

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Consider any conflicts. For instance, if you're reading about health information, does the website want to help you or do they want you to buy something that only they have?

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Identify false or incomplete information. This can include when information that's one-sided, biased, limited, or omits critical details.

Quiz

You're reading an article and you're not sure if you should trust it because it seems to be biased towards one side of an issue. Which of the following is the STRONGEST clues to trust/distrust the source?

Take Action

A man saying,

Before you trust a source, evaluate its purpose:

License:

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This Byte has been authored by

BL

Bridget Lepore

Helping others learn is my passion