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Fake News: Check Your Own News Claim

How to tell real news from fake

Things to Think About

Image of poster with news evaluation ideas

Double Check Your News

Poster image of Double Check Your News

Tips for Fact Checking and Avoiding Fake News from FactCheck.org

  • When you open up a news article in your browser, open a second, empty tab.  Use that second window to look up claims, author credentials and organizations that you come across in the article.
  • Examine the site's URL for oddities. ABCNews.com.co, for example, mimics the real ABC News website, but .co is the domain code for the country of Columbia. A guide to Internet domain codes may be found here. (Another obvious giveaway here is if the URL contains "wordpress." While an independent blogger might use a WordPress-based site to document or comment on real news on a modest scale, a professional news organization would not.)
  • Check the authorship. If an author is listed, you should be able to check his/her credentials. One way of doing this is by searching for the author on LinkedIn.
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes 
  • Search for the same story coming from other sources. Stories of more than very local or specialized importance are usually reported or commented on by more than one source; professional news is a very competitive industry.
  • If it seems like a joke, it probably is. Most satire news either features specific disclaimers about what it is or includes other obvious clues, like a source or author name that cannot be taken seriously. If unsure, follow the story back to its source and consider that source's array of stories as a whole.
  • Scan for spelling/grammatical errors. A story coming from a legitimate source may have one or two that got away from the editor, but they may be rife in a fake story. This is partly due to a lot of fake news being generated internationally.
  • Scan for language that deals heavily in superlatives and extreme figures of speech. A dead giveaway is the use of ALL CAPS, as respectable news sources only make use of it on rare occasions, such as in the context of a quote.
  • Check all links. A fake news writer may throw in a few to reputable sources, possibly assuming that most readers won't bother to investigate further. Clicking on these links may show them to be broken or leading back to another source without going directly to the page or story cited.
  • Beware of confirmation bias.  Just because you might agree with what an article is saying doesn't mean it's true.

Quick and Simple Debunking Exercise

Compare these two links.  Which one do you think is true?  Why or why not?
1 - Eat This Not That: Shocking Facts About Farmed Salmon
2 - Washington State Department of Health: Farmed vs. Wild Salmon

Select a Claim to Examine

How to Spot a Fake Twitter Post

Check the account history of the source. Two red flags are: the number of posts and how long the account has been active. If it claims to be a well know source (like CNN or CBS) and only has a few posts in its history that is a clue. If it's a well know source and the account has only been active a short time that is another red flag.

Images of an event are often reused to deceive people. You can check if an image has been used before on a reverse image search service like TinEye.

Click each image below to visit the sites. Which of the following accounts is fake? How can you tell?

photograph of President Obama smiling
photograph of President Obama smiling

Fake Videos

Nearly all of us have been taken in by a video that was later found to have been doctored or faked. It is fairly easy to edit a video so that it looks like you made the basket or the hawk picked up the snake. Here are some of the most famous faked videos that fooled millions:

These Viral Videos Were Fake?!

Some tips to help you tell if a video is fake:

The Physics of Fake Videos

Citizen Evidence Lab

 


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

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