Nowadays it’s much easier to check what is actual fact and what is only urban legend. There are online encyclopedias, Wikipedia and articles. The Wikipedia link for “Ring a Ring o’ Roses” mentions the link to the Great Plague. That’s when it’s also best to check urban legends sites like Snopes. Snopes points out that “Ring Around The Rosie” didn’t appear until 1881, long after the Great Plague, and that this nursery rhyme, like so many others, is just a rhyme.
So, if you are basing a story on an urban legend or if you include an urban legend as part of your story, should you take the time to check on the truth of that legend? Should you include that in your notes on the story? After all, your readers are going to check. If your story is based on the coincidences between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, you’ll want to make sure your readers won't dismiss your book as poorly researched. On the other hand, if you have a character who believes in conspiracies, Snopes would be a treasure trove.
Even for everyday life on the Internet, it helps to know where to check the facts behind stories. There are fact checking sites for politics, like Factcheck.org and there are ones to check any of the stories you see on Facebook, such as Snopes and Sophos.
What other fact checking sites do you use?