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Many people are confused by what they see or read on social networks like Facebook, media sites like and alternative news sites like  How do you know what is true?  How can you spot the liars? How can you determine if you are being manipulated?

This is a large topic.  Complete websites are devoted to debunking myths and finding the truth about rumors. What I hope to do here is help you learn how to find the truth. The first step is to be skeptical.  Being skeptical will help you find the truth and also help you avoid losing money to scammers. I know that skeptics are sometimes criticized. But today’s world requires us all to be a little skeptical.

You never know who is writing what you read on the internet. You don’t know who I am. You have no idea if I am qualified to even comment on the subject. The great thing is that you can find out. When you see a story of concern that has not been reported by the mainstream media, look for other “reliable” sources. If it sounds like a crazy rumor, it probably is.

Reliable sources are those that you would cite when writing a research paper. PBS, the Brietbart, and well known newspapers are reliable sources. They sometimes make errors and are forced to print retractions but they generally follow journalistic rules concerning unbiased and truthful reporting.

Non-journalistic sources should have some kind of verifiable credentials. Remember that you can buy a PhD on the internet and you can call yourself a doctor even if you are not. Reliable information you can believe in is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Don’t believe it when some blogger says “research shows that smoking really isn’t bad for your health.”  Look for a link to the original study. If none is provided, contact the blogger. If it is really important to you to get to the truth of the matter, don’t give up.  The harder it is to find the source of the information, the more likely it is that the information is false.

When you see a post come up on Facebook that seems incredible, Google before you click. Some of the links in those posts are designed to send viruses to your computer that can allow hackers to gain access to your personal information.  Always think before you click.

You can copy and paste an entire email into a Google search box. If the email is known to be spam, you will see posts about it. You can do something similar with info that you see pop up on Facebook.  The least that might happen when you share disinformation is that you are embarrassed when a friend lets you know that the Morgan Freeman “quote” you posted is not really a quote.  The worst that could happen is that tens of thousands of people believe the world will end on some date in the near future because the Mayans said so. That’s worse because some of the people were scared kids.  There is enough to be afraid of in the real world. Our kids don’t need the added stress caused by scary internet hoaxes and rumors.

Is the U.S. Government involved in spreading disinformation in an attempt to control perceptions of police brutality, invasion of privacy, discrimination or government violations of individual freedoms?  There are some scary things going on that have civil liberties advocates nervous.

Luckily, our government does not suppress that kind of information. PBS published a story in 2011 titled “Are we becoming a police state?” In other countries, the reporter could have been shot. Individuals may have some ulterior motive in trying to suppress real information or spread disinformation. That is one of the things that a skeptic looks at.  What is the writer’s motive?

Find the motive and you just may find the truth.

Social Networking, Disinformation and Alternative News Sites

FEB 4, 2016

Color cartoon drawing of the back of a short, rotound little male guy in an open space looking towards the right where he sees four planes in the sky dropping bombs but his left hand is creating a painting of white doves and flowers indicating the world is peaceful.


Being skeptical will help you find the truth and also help you avoid losing money to scammers. Today’s world requires us all to be a little skeptical.

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