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SIFT: Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace: Stop

Step One: STOP

The first move is the simplest. STOP reminds you of two things:

  1. If you STOP before you start reading content, you’re able to ask yourself if you trust the website or the source of information. Don’t read it or share it until you know what it is.
  2. Further on, you may have to STOP again to remind yourself what your goal is. Adjust your strategy if it isn't working. Make sure you approach the problem at the right amount of depth for your purpose.

Questions to Ask Yourself at STOP

  • What kind of content is this?
  • Who wrote or created it?
  • When was it published?
  • Who published it?

Online Verification Skills

Here is an intro video (3:14) on the importance of verifying your sources. The next video is located in the Investigate the Source page of this guide. 

The Miseducation of Dylann Roof

Here is a video (5:43) about the dangerous consequences of misinformation.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Do you think media literacy could help some people avoid processes of radicalization? Or are social drivers too strong?
  2. Are all conspiracy theories bad? Are all wrong? What do you think makes a conspiracy theory harmful? Do you hold beliefs that others would dismiss as a conspiracy theory?
  3. Do you know anyone that has gone down the conspiracy rabbit hole on an issue? What have you learned from that experience about what drives conspiracy thinking? 


Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course. The canonical version of this course exists at The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC-BY, and free for reuse and revision. We ask people copying this course to leave this note intact, so that students and teachers can find their way back to the original (periodically updated) version if necessary. We also ask librarians and reporters to consider linking to the canonical version.

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