Separating fact from fiction online

Somebody Looking At Facebook On Their Phone


JOPLIN, Mo. – A local Facebook post claiming Joplin hospitals couldn’t admit anyone because of a lack of a Joplin mask ordinance was recently brought to our attention here at KOAM.

The hospitals say there’s no truth to the claim, but it got us thinking: How can you separate the fact from fiction when it comes to social media?

William Delehanty, an associate professor of political science at MSSU has some thoughts.

“People have a tendency to self-select into the sources that they want to use, so there’s already a bias in favor believing the information as opposed to the alternative which is treating the information as dubious until shown otherwise,” said Delehanty.

Delehanty says to always consider the source of the claims and to see if they can provide evidence to back up what they’re saying.

“There are people who post things who don’t have any background or other kinds of expertise that would allow them to make the kind of claims that they’re making, so evaluating the source can also help you to judge to some degree the nature of the information,” said Delehanty.

Delehanty also encourages his students to use independent third party fact checking sites that have built an honest reputation with solid, unbiased research. You can find an extensive list of reputable fact checking sites here.