How to tell some troll is pulling your virtual leg

The fin de siècle newspaper proprietor / F. Opper. Library of Congress

The fin de siècle newspaper proprietor / F. Opper, 1894, Puck. Summary: Print shows a newspaper owner, possibly meant to be Joseph Pulitzer, sitting in a chair in his office next to an open safe where “Profits” are spilling out onto the floor; outside this scene are many newspaper reporters for the “Daily Splurge” rushing to the office to toss their stories onto the printing press, such stories as “A Week as a Tramp!! Wild and Exciting Experiences of a Daily Splurge Reporter”, “A Reporter of the Daily Splurge Spends a Thrilling Week in an Asylum!”, “An Organ Grinder’s Life”, “Life in Sing Sing – a Splurge Reporter in Disguise”, “Divorce Court Details”, “Private Scandal”, “a Night Around Town” by a woman reporter “in Men’s Attire”, life on the streets “As a Flower Girl”, “Thrilling Exposé”, “How beggars are treated on 5th Ave. by Fanny Fake”, and “High Spiced Sensation”. A notice hanging on the wall of the office states “The Motto of the Daily Splurge – Morality and a High Sense of Duty.” Library of Congress image

You’ve been watching news on TV all your life (you should have been reading your local daily newspaper, too . . . but I digress), and you hate to admit you’re having a tough time telling when Trump lies to you, or someone lies about Trump.

There is help available, for thinking people.

EdTechAdvocate features technology the editors consider useful for teachers and students in schools.

Occasionally school overlaps with real life.

Here are eight apps the publication recommends for teachers and students, to help them use their critical faculties to determine what news is accurate, and what news isn’t. From an article by Micheal Lynch.

No reason we shouldn’t use these tools for everyone, even people out of school for decades.

The recommendations, and links to the eight tools:

As fake news, biased media, and internet hoaxes abound, students need to be taught digital literacy from the time they start using computers. Fortunately, there are resources available for students to check their facts.

  1. All Sides

This site provides balanced news from all perspectives, so students can sort through facts and distinguish between differences in opinions easily. The site also offers a specialized search option where you filter results. Additionally, it offers a school toolbox with a variety of useful resources and lesson plans.

  1. CRAAP Test

Teaching students how to evaluate websites and information is a necessary skill. The CRAAP Test designed by Meriam Library, California State University, Chico is helpful in guiding students through evaluating the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose of information.

  1. FactCheck

This website is a non-profit, nonpartisan site which is a Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center allows students to ask questions and search. Additionally, it also allows students to ask science questions on public policy issues.

  1. Hoax-Slayer

This website focuses on debunking hoaxes or urban legends, as well as email hoaxes and internet scams. It also provides information on how to protect your email and computer.

  1. Politifact

Using a Truth-O-Meter (true, mostly true, mostly false, and false), Politifact rates the accuracy of claims. It focuses on politicians.

  1. Snopes

One of the original fact-checking websites, Snopes is a popular site for identifying misinformation and debunking internet rumors. Students can search with keywords or by plugging in a URL.

  1. Ted ED – “How to Choose Your News”

The Ted-Ed video, “How to Choose Your News” by Dan Brown is designed for students. Using imagery and explanations they will understand, Dan Brown explains how to be a critical thinker and savvy evaluator when it comes to reading (or watching) the news.

  1. Truth or Fiction

Another website that focuses on debunking internet rumors, e-mail hoaxes, and questionable images where students can search information as well.

Teachers need to explain how media biases work and change facts to fit their needs. By teaching students to use fact checking tools, teachers are strengthening their digital literacy skills.

Detail from

Detail from “Fin de seicle newspaper proprietor,” by F. Opper, 1894, Puck Magazine. Library of Congress image via Wikipedia

What are your favorite sources of solid information, and what are your methods of determining who is pulling your leg, and who is not? 

5 Responses to How to tell some troll is pulling your virtual leg

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Then there are those who claim others read the Times for bias confirmation, as a form of their own bias confirmation and denial of those things they do not like.


  2. Allan says:

    “…outstanding news outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times, and the television network news are biased.”

    No they are biased , and there bias is well known , here is the Times ledes on Trump’s “animal” comments.

    2 days ago
    “Trump Calls Some Unauthorized Immigrants ‘Animals’ in Rant”

    1 day ago
    “Trump Defends ‘Animals’ Remark, Saying It Referred to MS-13 Gang Members”

    5 hours
    “The Context Behind Trump’s ‘Animals’ Comment” – this is the fact checking of themselves where they admit he was talking about gang members but we at the NYT can read minds and deduce intent and know by the ‘context’ that he meant all people of colour here illegally ( and lets face legally as well because Trump is a big old racist)

    watch the video.

    This is why people read the Times , for bias confirmation. The paper is a progressive publication and is slanted that way and has the progressive reader base.

    That is caters for a particular readership is uncontroversial except when its reader say it reports without ” fear or favor” …that is demonstrably false. ( and yes Fox etc does the same)


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Yes, the CRAAP test is a useful one — but it relies on people’s knowing what is a hoax, and not wanting to advance the hoax for their own purposes.

    I’m frustrated as hell at those who say Snopes is biased, and who refuse even to deal with it, and same for those who disrespect FactCheck and Politifact. Those are most often the same people who say outstanding news outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times, and the television network news are biased.

    In other words, these tests only work for people who want to figure out hoax from fact.


  4. Ellie says:

    Hadn’t heard of CRAAP test. Thanks, Ed.


  5. Snopes is usually the one I go to when I see an outrageous story. I did not know there were so many places to fact-check!


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