There’s an old saying that goes, “If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”
Sometimes it’s easy to identify misinformation when you see it. WIN A FREE IPAD JUST BY FORWARDING THIS TO 10 FRIENDS! (quack quack)
But sometimes it’s not. When news of the death of Osama bin Laden spread, a quote supposedly by Martin Luther King Jr. started making the facebook rounds. You may have even seen it and forwarded it. The problem is, King never said it.
So if it looks like a cat, but is actually a duck, how can you tell?
Lifehacker created a blog post on this very subject, including a link to one of our favorite sites, Snopes.com. Snopes does a great job of tracking down how internet myths, rumors, and urban legends begin and how they spread. Type in “luther quote bin laden” and see the result. (We also like that Lifehacker recommends research, and evaluating the sources you find to determine if they’re trustworthy.)
So as you’re feverishly searching for just one more source for your paper, or just forwarding an email about how a clever student answered their physics final, remember to check your facts!