Free Expression vs. Misinformation Online: Who Decides?

Description: This webinar explores the question, “How do Americans weigh a core value like free expression against the downsides that come with harmful content and misinformation online?” A report by Gallup and Knight Foundation, released June 16, 2020, explores attitudes toward key issues in tech policy, including content moderation, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and approaches to industry self-governance like Facebook’s Oversight Board. This new study provides a springboard for tech companies, government, and citizens alike to advance a conversation about free expression online.


  • Evelyn Aswad, Professor of Law and Herman G. Kaiser Chair in International Law, the University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • Paul Barrett, Deputy Director, New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
  • Daphne Keller, Director of the Program on Platform Regulation, the Stanford Cyber Policy Center
  • Heather Moore, Governance and Strategic Initiatives, Facebook
  • Spencer Overton, President, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
  • John Samples, Vice President and Founder, the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute

Why I trust it: The Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots that invests in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. The Knight brothers believed that a well-informed community could best determine its own true interests and was essential to a well-functioning, representative democracy. The Knights formed the Knight Foundation to promote excellence in journalism and the success of the communities in which they worked.

Use: Use this resource to understand the complexities in the relationship between freedom of expression and misinformation.

Access: This webinar is accessible at this link.

Citation: Free expression vs misinformation online: Who decides? (2020). The Knight Foundation & Gallup.

The Challenge That’s Bigger Than Fake News

Description: This scholarly article critiques common strategies used to teach news literacy, arguing that many lesson plans only teach people to analyze the surface of a website and that “determining who’s behind information and whether it’s worthy of our trust is more complex than a true/false dichotomy” (p. 4).

Why I trust it: Sarah McGrew, one of the article’s authors, co-directs the Civic Online Reasoning Project at the Stanford History Education Group with Joel Breakstone. Breakstone’s research focuses on instructional assessment. Sam Wineburg is the founder of the project and is the Margaret Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford. Teresa Ortega is the project manager.

Use: If you’re an educator, use this resource to critique and strengthen your news literacy lesson plans so that your students internalize lifelong news literacy skills.

Access: You can access this online for free through the American Educator archives.

McGrew, S., Ortega, T., Breakstone, J., & Wineburg, S. (2017). The challenge that’s bigger than fake news: Civic reasoning in a social media environment. American Educator. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from

A Short Guide to the History of ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation Short Guide to History of Fake News and Disinformation_ICFJ Final.pdf

Description: This short eBook addresses the fact that fake news is not new. It offers an overview of major moments in the history of disinformation, in timeline format. It includes events from the Marc Antony smear campaign of 44BC, to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1493, to the 2005 creation of the Colbert Report, to a 2017 European Union report on fake news. The last few pages of the eBook detail an accompanying learning module.

Why I trust it: This resource is a relatively recent publication that was sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, a nonprofit that has worked with more than 100,000 journalists from 180 countries. Its aim is to provide journalists with resources that enhance their skills and expertise, and the resource itself presents facts without bias.

Use: The best way to arm yourself against fake news is to understand how it developed into what it is today. Use this resource to quickly grasp the overall timeline of disinformation, or use the learning module to help others understand as well.

Access: This resource is free for download from

Posetti, J. & Matthews, A. (2018). A short guide to the history of ‘fake news’ and disinformation: A new ICFJ learning module. International Center for Journalists.

Not Real News

Description: This weekly Associated Press column offers an overview and fact-check of the top viral social media content.

Why I trust it: The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news producer that has been in existence for over 150 years. It has won over 50 Pulitzer Prizes, and its content is trusted and reproduced by newspapers world-wide.

Use: Stay on top of the news you find on social media by reading this column each week.

Access: Users can access this column with a preferred internet browser from any computer in the United States, and beyond.

The Associated Press. (2019). Not real news. AP News.

Is it True? A Fake News Database

Description: People send in suspected hoaxes, doctored images, and fake websites. Then, Politico’s team works to determine the truth.

Why I trust it: Politico’s mission is to provide its audience with accurate, nonpartisan information. In 2012, the Poynter Institute found that about the same percentage of Politico readers identify as democrat as do those that identify as republican, so you can bet their investigations are unbiased. Learn more about Politico here.

Use: Reading something you suspect could be fake? Pop keywords into this database to see if it’s been investigated by Politico. If not, visit this link for a submission form.

Access: Users can access this database with a preferred internet browser from any computer in the United States, and beyond.

Lima, C & Briz, A. (2018). Is it true? A fake news database. Politico.


Description: Snopes offers an archive of investigated rumors and claims, debunking or verifying them so you don’t have to.

Why I trust it: The oldest and largest online fact-checking site, Snopes’ contextualized analysis uses evidence-based practices to fact-check the media. The company has been independently verified by the International Fact Checking Network, and, in the spirit of truth-seeking, it invites skepticism and challengers. The fact-checkers attempt to contact sources for interviews, and they seek out supporting information. They consult experts, and each fact-check travels through multiple staffers. Learn more here.

Use: Reading something you suspect could be a false or a hoax? Pop keywords into the Snopes search bar to see if it’s been investigated.

Access: Users can access this site with a preferred internet browser from any computer in the United States, and beyond.

Mikkelson, D. (2020). Fact check. Snopes.


Description: The PolitiFact nonpartisan investigative team rates political statements for accuracy based on independent news expertise and then awards statements a score on a “truthometer.” Learn more about PolitiFact’s methodology here.

Why I trust it: PolitiFact’s core values include: thorough reporting, independence, transparency, and fairness. PolitiFact does not accept donations from political parties, elected officials, candidates seeking public office, or anonymous sources. Learn more about PolitiFact’s financials here.

Use: This organization has been fact-checking since 2007, and it has gained a reputation for unbiased investigation into the truth (or lack thereof) of political statements. Use it to gain some perspective on political entities on all sides. 

Access: Politifact is free for use through a preferred internet browser from any computer in the United States, and beyond.

Holan, A.D. (2020). PolitiFact. The Poynter Institute.