We’ve all heard the joke, “If it’s on the Internet it must be true.”

In reality, anyone can create a website and put information on the Internet whether it’s true or not.

Often, entities that are selling a product will only list information that supports their products.

It is important as consumers that we seek out balanced, factual information. As a Michigan State University Extensioneducator, I have worked with many farmers who use the Internet as a valuable resource to increase their knowledge on a wide array of subjects. But how do we sort through all of the correct and incorrect information available to us? Fortunately, there are some clues that can indicate whether the information is credible.

Author

The author should be clearly identified and their credentials should be relevant to the topic. An author writing an informational piece will have their related credentials listed. Don’t be fooled by titles. A person with a PhD can be listed as Dr., but it does not mean he or she is an expert in all subjects. The PhD should be in a field related to the topic and the author’s current position should be clearly identified.

Fact checking

In general, websites with more citations and links will provide you with better information. On a website you are unsure of, it is a good idea to spot check facts with more reputable websites or research papers. Even in articles written by reputable sources, the author may show bias, so it’s still a good idea to look at multiple sources.