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Fake News: What is Fake News?

How to tell real news from fake

Help! Is My News Fake?

""        Whom or What Can You Believe? 

Did your mother call you to tell you about the miracle method to prevent Alzheimer's?

Did your Facebook feed pop up with an article that said the California wildfires were started by advanced laser weaponry?

You might have heard any or all of these stories, but there's one thread connecting all of them: they're not true.

The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life.

This guide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online, plus a chance to exercise your newfound skills.

What Kinds of Fake News Exist?


Fake news is material that is one or more of following:

  • Blatantly, intentionally false
  • Hyperpartisan (displaying extreme political bias)
  • Severely lacking in credible attribution or supporting evidence
  • Manipulated content
  • Satire or parody (The Onion is a prime example)

Disinformationa broader term that encompasses all examples of deliberately false or misleading information.

Misinformation: information that is inaccurate but not necessarily maliciously so.


Assessing the quality of the content and the motivation of the source is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or false, unbiased or intentionally misleading. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.

What's Wrong With Fake News?

Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?

  1. You deserve the truth. You are smart enough to make up your own mind - as long as you have the real facts in front of you.  You have every right to be insulted when you read fake news.
  2. Fake news destroys your credibility. If your arguments are built on bad information, it will be much more difficult for people to believe you in the future.
  3. Fake news can hurt you, and a lot of other people.  Purveyors of fake and misleading medical advice like and help perpetuate myths like HIV and AIDS aren't related, or that vaccines cause autism. These sites are heavily visited and their lies are dangerous.
  4. Real news can benefit you. If you want to buy stock in a company or are planning on voting in an election, you might want to read as much good information as possible to make the most informed decision.  Fake news will not help you make money or make the world a better place, but real news can.

How Do You Know?

What makes a news story fake?

How False News Spreads


This guide has been adapted from content provided by Pace University, Indiana University East, Trinity Washington University, Duquesne University

Guide Editor: Beth Garnsey

OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community.
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