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1. Gauge your emotional reaction: Is it strong? Are you angry? Are you intensely hoping that the information turns out to be true? False?
2. Double check the URL: Is it a recognizable website name? Does it contain odd letters, punctuation or an ending that isn't .com, .net, .gov, .edu or .org?
3. Check for a date and author: If there is a date, is it recent? And, does it say who wrote the piece or is it anonymous?
4. Look at the type of language used: Does it make claims implying it is the only reliable source? Does it use exaggeration, including excessive exclamations and ALL CAPS? Does it contain phrases like "you'll never believe"? Is there actual information included or is it all surmise or opinion?
5. Consider where the facts of the story come from: Does the story include attributions or citations to other reliable sources of information? Are there links that lead to sources that aren't produced by the same organization or other questionable outlets? Is there enough information provided about sources that you could potentially look them up yourself, or are they left vague?
6. Look at any images or graphics: Do they look obviously edited? Are they clearly connected to the story? If you do a reverse Google image search, do you find that the image or graphic is taken from elsewhere? Does it say who created the image or graphic, i.e., give credit?
7. Visit the about page: Does the site describe itself as news, or is it satire, etc.? Are there any editorial standards listed? Are the names of editors provided? Is there a "contact us" option with a matching email address, e.g., not a yahoo account?
8. Try a Google search: Can you confirm the story using a search engine? Are other outlets reporting it or is this the only one? If there are other sites with the story, is it exactly the same wording or is it original writing? Do you recognize the other sites carrying the story?