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Fake News  

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Help! My News is Fake!

Did your mother mention during dinner conversation 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 Donald Trump was going to pardon mass shooter Dylann Roof? You might have heard any or all of these stories, but there is one thread connecting all of them: they are not true.

The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you will use for the rest of your life. This LibGuide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online.


What kinds of fake news exist?

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 critque on modern medical practice (Category 4). Some articles fall under more than one category. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.


How do you know?


Getting Help

If you have more questions, ask a librarian! We are here to help.

Content for this guide was adapted from guides created at Pace University and Indiana University East.


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