Once you’ve found information online – or someone has shared it with you – how do you know if it’s true, or at least credible? In other words, how do you authenticate the information? The Internet is a unique medium in that it allows anyone – not just experts – to write on any topic and to broadcast it to a wide audience.

The strength and weakness of the Internet as a research source is just how much information there is: a badly-phrased search can drown you in irrelevant, misleading or unreliable results.

The digital age presents us with unprecedented problems when it comes to finding information and making sure that it’s true. Where our first problem used to be getting information, what’s more difficult today is filtering out what we need from what we don’t. In fact, creating and distributing information is now so easy that we can no longer assume that sources have anything to lose by spreading content that’s false or misleading. In essence, today we all have to be our own librarians, researchers and fact-checkers.

Authentication 101

information on how to search and how to authenticate information. Both are essential skills to master if we want to end up with relevant and reliable information.

Two of the most important kinds of information we look for online are about health and science. Because most of us aren’t experts on these topics, we rely on people and organizations who are experts for good information. MediaSmarts has developed new resources to help youth and adults find and recognize good information on science and health online.

Evaluating Science and Health Information

Two of the most important kinds of information we look for online are about health and science. This section looks at how we get news and information about health and science topics, types of misinformation that are particularly common in those subjects, and steps we can take to determine how reliable a source or claim is.

Probably the most essential factor in accurately and objectively judging health and science information is to understand how science is done.

Though health and science topics are subject to the same kinds of misinformation found everywhere, there are two types that are particularly common in these fields: denialism and snake oil.

While many of us strongly prefer online sources when seeking out health and science information,[1] a majority first encounter health or science stories through traditional news outlets.[2]

Two of the most important kinds of information we look for online are about health and science. These can have a big effect on decisions we make about our own lives and our opinions on controversial issues.

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