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?
Did one of your friends breathlessly tell you that there is a new spider that is going to kill us all?
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.
Fake news is material that is one or more of following:
Disinformation: a broader term that encompasses all examples of deliberately false or misleading information.
Misinformation: information that is inaccurate but not necessarily maliciously so.
Claire Wardle has identified seven types of mis- and disinformation that can produce fake news.
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.
Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?
What makes a news story fake? 1. You can't verify its claims. A fake news article may or may not have links in it tracing its sources; if it does, these links may not lead to articles outside of the site's domain or may not contain information pertinent to the article topic. 2. Fake news appeals to emotion. Fake news plays on your feelings - it makes you angry, happy, or scared. This is to ensure you won't do anything as pesky as fact-checking. 3. Authors usually aren't experts. Most authors aren’t even journalists, but paid trolls. 4. It can't be found anywhere else. If you look up the main idea of a fake news article, you might not find any other news outlet (real or not) reporting on the issue. 5. Fake news comes from fake sites. Did your article come from abcnews.com.co? Or mercola.com? Realnewsrightnow.com? These and a host of other URLs are fake news sites.
This guide has been adapted from content provided by Pace University, Indiana University East, Trinity Washington University, Duquesne University
Guide Editor: Beth Garnsey