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Lateral Reading Defined
Lateral reading involves investigating an unfamiliar website by looking at what other websites and sources are saying about it. The most efficient way of doing this is by opening new tabs along the horizontal, or lateral, axis of a web browser.
What about "About"?
Checking out a website's "About" page can be useful, if the reader remembers that the "About" page is written by the author of the website in question. If the website is untrustworthy, then what the site says about itself is most likely untrustworthy too.
What Do Lateral Readers Do?
- Do not initially read the content on an unfamiliar website. Instead, they open additional web browser tabs and search for what other reliable authorities are saying about the unfamiliar website. They look at pages linking to the site, not just pages coming from it.
- Seek out information about the author of the unfamiliar website, and look for evidence of ideological, political or financial bias.
- Re-engage with the website in question only after they have gotten their bearings and have a better understanding of whether to trust the information presented to them.
Evaluating Web Sources Using Lateral Reading