Anyone can build a website – indeed, anyone does, there are 1.8 billion of them at last count. If the site builders are clever with their keywords they can get to the top of the searches. From then on, they can increase in hits and without it being tangible, an opinion transmogrified into a fact is born.
Making sure the information you use, even if it is only for your own personal use is important. If all you want to do is be informed on a topic, you need to be properly informed and not have your opinion biased or skewed.
Check the date
When a search engine provides you with a list of results in its 0.043 seconds, one of the first things you can do is to check the date. If you’re searching for something in the past, getting a date which is at about the same time is a good starting point. Getting one which is new might be a new perspective or a different point of view.
Sources you know
An obvious thing to check it the source. The internet provides information by telling you about the type of organization. When a site is followed by .gov, the information is from a government entity and so you can be comforted by the information being accurate and up to date.
A .com suffix means the entity is a company or the site owner has chosen .com because most people are used to looking for a .com. If it is a company, you know that they are going to present their products and services in the best light, which makes sense because it is their web presence. They are allowed to.
Start with sites you know
If it is news you’re looking for then one of the large news sites might be the place to start. If you read the Wall St. Journal or the New York Times you know the piece is researched and properly checked. The Huffington Post too, is a source of lots of information which has the advantage of starting as a news source and has worked to stick to its principles.
Newspapers have a publisher and will often be known to have a leaning. Right wing or left wing, it does not matter, but pick your source based on what you already know, and acknowledge their view does have a perspective.
Check in with the author
One of the good things about the internet is that it provides a mouthpiece for all sorts of people. It is also one of the worst things. People whose views you would decry with every fiber of your being have the right to state their opinions. Make sure then that before you decide that something is accurate, you know who wrote it and what their perspective it.
An article on a .edu site written by a professor could be an authoritative piece on the topic, but it still does not mean there is not a perspective and that it is a balanced view.