In our Keanu Reeves example, the absence of any news stories was telling. But many times when you use Google News (or other news search) you'll find something better: a fact-check on the claim.

Let's take a story circulating as I write this, one claiming a Georgia lawmaker believed she was told by a Chik-Fil-A employee to "go back to her country" but later clarified that she was mistaken.

In this case we do the news search, and we do find something: a fact-check by Snopes:

The Snopes fact-check labels this as false, but more importantly it presents the background in detail: a similar incident happened at another store sometime earlier, but the Babylon Bee is a satirical publication that created a very similar (but false) story.

Snopes initially gave this story a "false" rating, but many objected, claiming that the site did not attempt to hide it was satire, and labeling satirical articles as false was unfair (and a bit humorless!). Snopes made a counterargument that Babylon Bee articles were repeatedly shared by readers as true, due to a deceptive way the Bee constructs articles (a practice sometimes called fauxtire). Eventually Snopes relented and introduced a new ruling: "labelled satire."

So was Snopes right in the initial ruling? Wrong? Somewhere in between? Was this a case of semi-intentional deception, or just satire not funny enough for people to recognize as satire?

Here's the thing: people can get twisted in knots over the ruling, and both sides can go into outrage over the unfairness of it all, but for you as a fact-checker the ruling doesn't matter so much. It's the fact-checking article that is most valuable to you.

Fact-checks are useful to web readers because they are designed to give a concise explanation of particular claims and because good fact checks (like good Wikipedia articles) show their work by linking to high quality sources that you can look at yourself. The ruling is helpful, but isn't what matters most: it's the explanation and all the links they've compiled for you. If you doubt this ruling, you can click to the site itself and see that both sides have a point, the Babylon Bee bills themselves as a satirical publication, although, as Snopes initially noted, this is not made as clear as it might be.

Scanning Results Using "Click Restraint"

Some times a search on a claim will turn up multiple stories, many of which are not relevant. Consider this bit of viral news that circulated on Facebook:

You know when you go to Walmart and they have the wipes to clean your cart handle? How many of you don’t use them? Well I do, and I always thought of the germs only. Was told today that the police chief also suggests you do it also because of all the problems with drugs now days, and if they have fentanyl or something like that still on their hands and they touch that cart handle and then you do, it can get into your system. Scary but worth taking the time to clean the handle. All you’d have to do is rub your nose or touch your child’s mouth.