A friend or family member has just forwarded you a wonderful piece of propaganda: It’s filled with inflammatory bare assertions, stirring anecdotes, and a dare to pass it on to everyone you know! And no sources.
1. Find a phrase in the message that’s a) unlikely to appear in anything else on the web, and b) contains minimal or no punctuation.
Bad: “Really important!!! Will take thirty seconds to read+-+-+Aren’t you mad!?!?”
Good: “Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term”
2. Search for the phrase without surrounding quotes.
3. Look for results on sites with names like: Snopes, Urban Legends, Politifact, Truth or Fiction, Hoax Busters, etc.
4. If you can’t find any page debunking your forward, search again with quotes around it, try another phrase, or add “hoax” or “myth” to the search. E.g. the next phrase in the e-mail with “myth” added returns the same top three results, all to myth-busting sites.
If you still can’t find anything, you have scientifically proven the forward to be 100% true! If the message confirms your preexisting beliefs, it must be true.