PRACTICAL ACTIVITY 1 ‘Let’s check the reliability of a news website’



The number of websites on the internet has exploded, so it is not always easy to tell which sites contain sourced, verified real news that is in the public interest and which ones spread sensationalist fake news. To make matters worse, these fake news sites are often designed by professional web developers and look more and more like real news sites in terms of things like graphics and functionality.


Nevertheless, you can still remain vigilant and verify a website’s reliability, and we are going to show you how – step by step!





Step 1: Go to the ‘Legal notices’ or ‘About’ section: This usually will tell you what kind of website you are looking at and give you essential information such as its nature, its ownership, the legal entity it belongs to, its annual turnover, and when it was created. Websites where these sections are more visible, more easily accessible, and contain more specific information are more likely to be considered reliable.



Note: Remember that on a commercial website, legal notices are required. If there are no legal notices, do not buy from it!



Step 2: Check the identity and reliability of the site’s writing staff: Once you have looked at the ‘Legal notices’ and ‘About’ sections, it should be easy to find out who the site’s author or authors are. This is what the ‘Our Team and/or ‘Contact Us sections are for. If you cannot find these sections and this step seems difficult, then it is a bad sign: the authors of a reliable website have no reason to hide their identities! If you do find out who the contributors are and want to verify their identities, you can search for them to make sure they actually have the legitimacy to report on or analyse a topic (journalists, experts, scientists, etc.).



Step 3: Trace the information back to its source: Next, ask yourself whether the site mentions its sources. Can you see where the news published on the site originally came from? Outlets that cite recognisable sources are more likely to contain robust, viable information.



Step 4: Look at how the information is presented: This step requires you to pay a bit more attention to the content, remain objective, and think critically by asking yourself the following questions: Is the information presented in a balanced way? Do the headlines reflect the articles’ contents? Does the website present factual information or opinion? Does the site use a generally measured tone? Is it open to disagreement and multiple viewpoints?



Step 5: Keep a close eye on grammar and spelling: This step is getting more difficult because it is getting harder to tell the difference between a real news website and one created in a fake news factory, but this tip may still help you in some cases: if the site’s writing style is subpar and the articles are riddled with spelling mistakes, it is often an indication that poor-quality information. On the internet, style and substance are connected!



Step 6: Can you leave a comment on the website? Most professional news sites allow you to leave comments to give your opinion on an article’s content. If you cannot find a way to leave a comment, it means the site’s authors are not really open to criticism, debate, and disagreement – that is not a good sign! If what you are spreading is fake news or conspiracy theories, then you do not want to be debunked!



Step 7: Look for the https protocol: This is something everyone can do to protect themselves from internet fraud: make sure you see HTTPS, it allows visitors to verify the identity of the website they are viewing thanks to an authentication certificate supplied by a reliable and recognised authority. It is very easy to spot at the beginning of the search bar. If you do not see https, you are probably better off not going to the site!



Step 8: Use WHOIS: Finally, if you want something that does the job quickly, you can try who.is. On the website’s splash page, just copy and paste the URL of the website you are investigating and you will have all sorts of useful information on it within seconds.





Website reliability assessment table:

To make it easy to use these tips when you are using the internet, here is a table to help you assess a website’s reliability. The higher its score, the higher its quality and reliability!

Website name:


Website address:





It is easy to find this information on the site:

– Creators

– Creation date

– Overview of the team and project

– Financial and legal information


The site’s contributors have the legitimacy to cover the topic: Are they journalists or recognised specialists?


The authors cite multiple sources that I can access and verify easily.


It is easy for me to leave comments to give my opinion on an article.


There are no spelling errors on the site.


The authors’ writing is nuanced, differing points of view are presented.


I can find information about the site on WHOIS.


The links do not work.

– 2

I am very quickly asked to join a group/organisation/political party or to buy something.