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    Identifying High Quality Sites 
    A Lesson from Common Sense Media
    The internet plays a huge part in how people get their news and information in today's world.
    Want to know who won last night's game?
    Check the internet!
    Need to know what the weather is going to be like in Florida next week?
    Check the internet!
    Need to know information on the sourland mountain region of New Jersey?
    Check the internet!
    Information is just a click away and people today can become knowledgeable on almost any subject matter with just an hour of reading. Or can they? There is just one catch.
    Not everything you read on the internet is true!
    Years ago people relied on books, magazines, and newspapers to get their information. Most respected book publishers and newspaper editors looked for authors who knew a lot about their subjects. They also paid skilled editors and fact checkers to review the information in these publications for mistakes.
    And then came the internet...
    The internet made information available to everyone faster and cheaper than books, magazines, and newspapers. It became the go to source for news and information because it was so easy to use. It also allowed anyone to publish information regardless if that information was true or not. 
    Although many websites are written by people with expertise on a particular topic, this isn't always the case throughout the internet. Sometimes people who create or post on blogs do not have a background in the subject matter, and there is no editor to hold them to a high standard. Not all are equally trustworthy.
    People who create or post on blogs and other websites are not necessarily experts in the subject. Their "facts" may not be true. They often don't fix errors when some are found. They may pretend that their opinions are facts. They may even choose to include misinformation on purpose, or be unkind to others who think differently.
    The ease of publishing on the internet might affect how much you can trust the content of some websites. Students need to evaluate the sites they use for information and then decide which sites they can trust.
    Click this link and flip through the digital book that illustrates this idea. Choose the play option to hear the audio.
    Hurricane Sandy Example 
    The internet played a big role in helping people stay informed about Hurricane Sandy. Many people posted photos online like the ones below to help illustrate the impact the storm had in our area. People who were affected by the hurricane also used sites like Facebook and Twitter to update others on how they were doing.
    sandy 1  
    sandy 2  
    sandy 3  
    sandy 4  
    sandy 5  
    This next image was sent out over Facebook during the storm and claims to be a picture of soldiers guarding the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" in Washington D.C. The image went viral and was shared 90,000 times with 70,000 "Likes" with this caption.
    "AMAZING PHOTO: Even a hurricane won't keep the honor guard from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier this morning" 
     tomb image
    The photo became so popular, and was so moving that it was even picked up by major news services like NPR (National Public Radio) and the Washington Post. The photo was actually taken a month earlier during a heavy rain storm in September.
    The Old Guard Unit in charge of guarding the tomb put out it's own Twitter Post to clarify the news story. Someone committed a hoax.
    old guard  
    This was not the only hoax involving fake images from Hurricane Sandy. There were dozens of fake photos showing up all over the internet within days of the storm.
    Click the picture below to see some examples. 
    So how can you tell the sites that are real from the ones that are fake? Click the link for the Test Before You Trust activity to learn how to evaluate information online to be sure it's trustworthy.  >>>  Continue
     ( source © 2012 Common Sense Media )  www.commonsense.org 
Last Modified on February 19, 2015