How to Tell Whether a Website is Trustworthy
Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what information on social media sites comes from reliable and credible sources. Just because something sounds true does not mean it is. Here are some tips on how to decide whether a site is trustworthy before you share it with others, use that information to learn more about a topic, or apply health advice to yourself.
- Academic journals (for example, Journal of Adolescent Health) that feature respected authors who are well known in their specific fields.
- Links to websites of established institutions, such as Mayo Clinic, Department of Justice, and universities and their affiliated organizations.
- Materials published in the last 10 years (when more recent information is available)—anything older than that is probably outdated and less reliable.
- Byline: Is the article written by a real person? Google the author’s name and sometimes you find out that the author doesn’t really exist.
- Check the date: Sometimes websites will recycle an old story by pasting a new headline on it, but if you search on the subject, you’ll find that it’s an old story—and unreliable because it’s not recent.
- Is it real satire? Satire is a type of writing that uses exaggeration and humor to expose people’s vices, and it’s usually clearly labeled as such. But some people don’t get the joke, and they repost satirical articles as credible information.
- Is the site’s mission clear? You should be able to see a clear idea of who the site’s audience is, an informative and unbiased mission, and signs that the information is regularly updated.
- Look for websites ending in .edu, .gov or .org (For example, https://www.healthykids.org). Sites that end in .com are more “commercial.”
- Finally, rely on the fact-checkers. There are some well-known fact-checking sites whose mission is to debunk false information. Two of the most well known are Snopes and FactCheck.
How do you decide which online outlets to trust? Do you have any other helpful hints? Where do you get your information about mental health?