Please feel free to share this guide with others. If you are a librarian, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes. Thanks to KT Lowe, librarian at Indiana University East, for creating the original guide of which this one is based.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Fake news = real advertising revenue. If people click on a link to a fake news website, they usually see some real advertising, which means money for whoever posted it and sold the ads. Listen to this interview with the guy who posted one of the big fake news stories of 2016.
Help! My News is Fake!
Did your mother call you to tell you that liberals hate science? Did your Facebook feed pop up with an article on a new pesticide that's going to kill us all? Did one of your friends breathlessly tell you that president-elect Donald Trump was going to pardon mass shooter Dylann Roof? 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 or biased news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life. This LibGuide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online, plus a chance to exercise your newfound skills.
Real or Fake?
This article tells a charming story about how Will Ferrell once broke down in Pensacola and how people stopped to help him and took him to lunch. The article ends with Ferrell saying, "So yeah, that’s my story about Pensacola, Florida. It’s nice to know there are still places like this in America.”
I want to believe it, don't you? Is it real?
What kind of fake news exists?
There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.
CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information
CATEGORY 3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news
No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.) Some articles fall under more than one category. Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.
So what? Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?