In addition to the four moves and a habit, these shortcuts will help you evaluate sources and check facts efficiently.
Quickly grab key phrases: highlight the text, right click, and select a search engine. If the information you’re examining is time-sensitive, click on “news” to get the latest.
Search for a source by name but exclude the source itself from a search: by adding to a search a minus sign and URL, you can search for sites that mention the source. For example:
daily caller -site:https://dailycaller.com/
youtube algorithm extremism -site:https://youtube.com
(However, this will include any social media sites maintained by the site, such as Facebook or Twitter.)
Find out when a site was registered – and possibly who is behind it: go to https://whois.com and paste in a URL (the part up to the first /). Every time a website is created, the creator has to provide contact and technical information to a central registry. Sometimes the information is detailed; quite often, though, a registrar will hide the details under a proxy. In that case, the only useful information you will find is the date it was registered and when it is up for renewal. There are several sites where you can run whois searches. This one works well if you ignore their advertising for domain registration and internet hosting.
Track down an image using a reverse-image search: Go to https://images.google.com and either paste in the image URL or upload a copy of the image. This won’t necessarily lead you to the original; you’ll likely find multiple copies of a viral image. Scan through the links to see what source seems most likely to include useful information. You might also find it useful, if looking for an older image, to use the “tools” option to limit by date. TinEye is another reverse image search if you want an alternative to Google.
Find the original source using a date limiter: In a Google search, clicking under Tools and Anytime will give you a chance to limit a search by date. Using the custom date range option, start some time ago – say up until 2009 – and, if that fails to locate the source, reset your date limiter adding a year or two.
Find the original source using place as a clue: Sometimes a site will relate news without telling you who originally reported it. Try searching for a news source from the place where the item reported in the news happened by searching the city and “newspaper” or “local affiliate” for television news. Then search on the site of a local news outlet to see how it was first reported locally. Chances are the story got a little garbled in the retelling.
Find a previous version by using the Wayback Machine: Sometimes you may want to see how a page has changed over time. The Internet Archive has saved billions of websites over the years, so you can type in an address and see how a site looked in the past. Some pages or parts of pages may be missing and whether a page is archived will often depend on if a page was heavily linked to in the past, or if the site owner wanted it excluded from the archive.