Information Literacy Skills for Social Media

January 17, 2017 | Claudia Stanny

Information literacy entails the ability to evaluate the credibility of an information source and the quality of the evidence presented. Traditionally, these decisions have been directed at print media. We want students to differentiate between scholarly, peer-reviewed sources, and other types of print media.

With the advent of the internet, we directed attention to evaluating the credibility of web sites as information sources. More recently, these concerns extend to social media.

The challenge of fake news and inaccurate, biased web sites is not new, although concerns over fake news are heightened in the past year. Instructors may want to include formal instruction about how to evaluate the accuracy of information in a news story or on a web site and how to evaluate the credibility of the source.

The CRAAP Test identifies six criteria readers should use to evaluate the credibility of information:

  • Currency of the information (date of posting or publication)
  • Relevance of information for you needs (consider the intended audience for the information)
  • Authority of the source (qualifications, potential for bias or conflict of interest)
  • Accuracy of the content (supported by evidence, peer-reviewed)
  • Purpose of the message (intended to inform, teach, entertain, persuade, or sell a product?) recently published blog posts with guidelines for evaluating the credibility of news stories and information circulated in chain e-mails. is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Their guidelines echo the criteria identified in the CRAAP Test:

  • Consider the source
  • Read beyond headlines for details that might contradict or modify the meaning of the headline
  • Evaluate supporting evidence (if any)
  • Check the date of publication
  • Consider whether the “news” is intended as satire
  • Consider your own biases (we tend to be less critical of sources that support our existing beliefs)
  • Consult expert authorities to corroborate assertions in the story produced a short YouTube video (3:22 min) that summarizes its guidelines for evaluating a social media source. You can use this in class or upload the link to your eLearning class.

 UWF Library Workshop on Information Literacy for Social Media

Britt McGowan and Amanda Ziegler will facilitate a workshop for students, Stranger than Fiction: Telling Real News From Fake, on how to evaluate news sources in social media. The workshop will be offered from 4 PM – 5 PM in the Library Classroom on Wednesday, February 1.

 If you would like to have a librarian visit your classroom and offer an in-class workshop for your students, contact Britt McGowan (474-2048,


 CRAAP Test (September 17, 2010). Original test designer’s site. Meriam Library, California State University – Chico.

 Robertson, L., & Kiely, E. (November 18, 2016). How to spot fake news. Retrieved from:

 Spotting Fake News (December 8, 2016). [VIDEO] Retrieved from:

 Website Research (updated September 15, 2016). Central Michigan University Libraries Libguide. Retrieved from:

The CMU libguide discusses several topics relevant for online information literacy: Evaluating the credibility of web sites (includes the CRAAP Test), using URLs to determine website ownership and credibility, and a discussion of Wikipedia, Open Access Resources, and Google Scholar.

tmd 1/17/2017