Should I share it?
Stop! What am I looking at?
I use the SIFT method to think about all the information I come across online. The first step of SIFT is to stop and figure out what I’m looking at. Is it a news article, or just someone’s opinion? Does it come from a source I know? If I’m certain I can trust the information—for example, it’s about a local event posted by another organisation in Salty Shire—then I don’t need to do any more investigating. But if I don’t recognise the source, I move on to the next step.
Where did this come from?
Sometimes I see an interesting post but the source is unfamiliar. The second step of SIFT is to investigate the source, so before I even read the whole story, I try to figure out if it’s worth my time—if the source is trustworthy. Usually, I do a quick search for the Wikipedia page about the website to get a sense of who is publishing this content. For example, one time, I saw a story from the World News Daily Report, and when I did a search for ‘world news daily report Wikipedia’, I learned that the site publishes satire! I could have accidentally posted this article, thinking it was real, if I hadn’t done my research.
What are other news sources saying?
Sometimes I’m worried a story might be biased, so I’ll check other news sources to find out if there’s coverage of the story from a website I trust. This is the third step of SIFT: find better coverage. If I see the same topic reported on multiple reliable websites in a similar way, then I usually feel more confident in sharing the information.
Is anything here being taken out of context?
Every so often, people will take quotes or photographs out of context and intentionally distort their meaning. The final SIFT step is to trace content back to its original context. Once, I saw a story that I simply couldn’t believe, so I did a reverse image search on the picture used to support the controversy. The photo was years old, and it didn’t even come from the location where the story took place!
Is the content relevant to the community?
Finally, even after I’ve determined that I can trust the information that I’ve found, I need to decide if it’s worthy of posting to our online community. I don’t want to overwhelm our followers with posts, so it needs to be useful and relevant for me to share it. I try to strike a balance between interesting news content and posts about RROC and our community events.