Publication Credibility: The article is on a site published by an organization with a searchable identity and history, written by an author with a searchable identity and history, and conforms to a particular online genre of news publication (blog, citizen journalism, etc) or classic news genre (editorial, straight reporting, photo-essay, etc.).
It's often hard to know what we're looking at, because we tend to encounter news links in our social media feeds. Let's take a deeper look at the two articles shared in Facebook (from the opening page):
The design practices for article links in Facebook make it hard to tell the difference:
These design features mean that stories from misleading sources look just like stories from legitimate sources, and you have to work hard to figure out differences. We've all been fooled.
Here's how we investigated the Red Flag News article.
We clicked the author's name--Michael Snyder--on the Red Flag News story, hoping to find out more about him. Yes, that's right: before even reading the article, we left the page.
The author's linked name took us to the same article on Snyder's own blog, End of the American Dream. A quick check showed us it was word-for-word the same story as on Red Flag News. (That's how we discovered that Red Flag News is an aggregator.) We scrolled to the bottom of the blog story to see Snyder's author description:
Why would someone who wrote a book on Bible prophecy be interested in (or knowledgeable about) earthquakes? Not a very convincing authority.
Snyder's blog article links to a Fox Science News story (from which he borrowed most of the information), which in turn is a reprint from an original story in the Wall Street Journal by Jim Carlton--the same story linked above. Full circle!
In other words, in less time than it would have taken to read the Red Flag News article, we discovered it was written by someone who specializes in Bible prophecy, and is a 3rd-generation inaccurate representation of the original Wall Street Journal article. This is something you should be doing, too. We just used available links, but if there are no links, use Google. Don't waste your time on unfamiliar, potentially questionable sites. Check their credibility before you read.
And because we are librarians and can't help but keep researching: the WSJ article refers to a Federal/State study published in 2014, as well as a report by a company called CoreLogic from November 2016. But we are getting ahead of ourselves: evidence & sources are two pages from now.
Wondering how to do this kind of search? Ask a librarian! We live for this kind of thing.