How news stories enter our lives has changed radically, but we're still depending on assumptions about how print and TV news filtered truth from fiction. IOW, we're assuming other people (or search tools) are filtering for credibility. THEY AREN'T.
The emotional urge to share news you encounter on social media often overpowers the rational mind. It's so powerful, that it boosted fake news shares above real news in the weeks leading up to the Fall 2016 US elections.
Before you click and share, pause! Evaluate the item with these criteria to determine whether an article is worth sharing:
Headlines: Headlines accurately represent the substance of articles, with minimally emotional language (recognizing that their purpose is as much marketing as informational).
Publication Credibility: The article is on a site published by an organization with a searchable identity and history, written by an author with a searchable identity and history, and conforms to a particular online genre of news publication (blog, citizen journalism, etc) or classic news genre (editorial, straight reporting, photo-essay, etc.).
Basic Facts: The basic information (who, what, when, where, why & how) is clear within the first few sentences, is supported with evidence, and can be confirmed in other news outlets.
Evidence: Articles consistently identify sources for information with names and/or links, and sources are credible, appropriate, and multiple. All reported facts, unless widely known, are verified with sources. It is also clear that reporting reflects skeptical pursuit of knowledge, not just relaying source information at face value. Facts are not cherry-picked to support a particular point.
Bias: The publication is transparent about its publication and editorial processes: publication, funding, and editorial staff information is easily available, and editorial guidelines are clear and consistent. Biases are openly acknowledged, and retractions or corrections are issued when details are reported inaccurately.