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Fake Online Information v. Real Online Information: Reading Online News

When we search for information using a search engine, sometimes our results consist of a lot of junk! This guide is to assist you with using the CRAAP test to identify what is junk/fake information and what is real.

Reading Online News

Applying the CRAAP Test (Currency-Relevancy-Authority-Accuracy-Purpose) to online news takes a few seconds that can save you the trouble, confusion, and embarrassment of reading fake news. Consider the following questions:

1. Currency: When was the story published? Are there follow-up reports?

2. Relevancy: Does the story stay on subject? Does the story link out to advertisements? 

3. Authority: Who is the author? Dose the report mention outside sources of information that can be verified? What is the URL? Websites that end in "" or names that end in "lo" (ex: are NOT news websites*.

4. Accuracy: Can you fact check the information?

5. Purpose:  Is the news story informational and balanced? Does the story offer many perspectives on the central topic or does it seem to focus on just one opinion/agenda?

*"False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical 'News' Sources" by Melissa Zimdars is licensed under CC by 4.0

Example 1

1. Currency: Recent news.

2. Relevancy: The article is written on my topic.

3. Authority: The NY Times is an established newspaper that publishes corrections to their stories. The author is an actual reporter with a contact profile on the NY Times website.

4. Accuracy: I am able to fact check quotes with other news stories and speeches.

5. Purpose: The article is informative and offers both a critical and explanatory perspective. 

Results: REAL information!

Isaac, M. (2016, November 19). Facebook Considering Ways to Combat Fake News, Mark Zuckerberg Says. Retrieved December 05, 2016, from

Example 2

1. Currency: Recent news.

2. Relevancy: Yes, it relates to my research topic.

3. Authority: No author is listed. The website is a farcical/comedic news related website.

4. Accuracy: All information is opinion based and not informative.

5. Purpose: The agenda of the information is to be humorous and not informational or balance.

Results: Junk! Toss it out!

Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconceived Opinions. (2016, December 01). Retrieved December 05, 2016, from

Social Media News

Can you think of how to apply the CRAAP Test to the "news stories" shared in your FB feed or Twitter feed?

Consider the following questions:

1. Currency: When was this story shared with me? When was the story written? Is it still current?

2. Relevancy: Why is this "news" being shared? What's the agenda?

3. Authority: Who is sharing this "news"? Why should I trust this person?

4. Accuracy: Can you fact check the information? How do you know this is "real news"?

5. Purpose: Is the "news" entertaining or sensational? Does it share information to be informed or to generate attention/gossip? Consider the motive or purpose of the information.

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