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propaganda techniques


 Middle School |  High School  Teacher

So I Saw This Meme on Facebook

How to evaluate political and current events news you see on social media


What did you see?


  • Is it a meme shared on Facebook? These can be very entertaining, but they aren’t typically based on fact.
  • Try Googling the information on the meme to see what websites come out to support or refute it.
  • Is it a satire site such as The Onion? Satire is a legitimate form of political commentary, but it isn’t meant to express the literal facts.
  • Is it a nonpartisan site such as or You can usually trust these. Is it from a major newspaper such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or the Washington Post? These are usually fact-based.
  • Is more than one news source reporting on the event or issue, or just one? Can you find peer-reviewed journal articles or library books about the general topic? Even though these may not contain information on specific very recent news items, you can get a good factual background from them.


What should you look for?


  • Verifiable facts and statistics, not rumors or wild claims. Just because it “sounds right” or seems to confirm something you already believe doesn’t mean it is actually true.
  • Citing sources – just as you cite sources in your research papers, Internet news should do the same. If they don’t clearly state where they got their information, there is no evidence for it being correct.
  • Who paid for or sponsored the content? If you can find out who supports it, you can see what viewpoint it is coming from.
  • Does the website URL end in “lo” or “”? These are usually not legitimate news sources.
  • The website should have an “About Us” or similar tab to let you learn more about them.
  • Who is the author? Is he or she a subject expert or a professional journalist? If not, or if you can’t find out who the author is, be careful about trusting the material.


Is This Tweet Fake?


Check the account history of the source. Some red flags to look for are the number of posts and how long the account has been active.


If it claims to be a well-know source (like CNN or CBS) and only has a few posts in its history that is a clue. If it's a well-know source and the account has only been active a short time that is another red flag.


Also look to see if the account is verified by Twitter. Verified accounts are denoted by a blue checkmark badge: