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Worth the paper it's not printed on? Identifying and avoiding fake news: Home

Information and resources to help identify "fake news," understand the concerns and impact it can have, and avoid unkowingly using or sharing it.

"Nonfiction is that body of work in which the author purports to tell us about the real world, a real experience, a real person, an idea, or a belief.

Probst and Beers, 2016

Is this a problem?

Infographic: Most Americans Believe Fake News Headlines | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

The Filter Bubble--who controls what you see and read online?

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, because you are in essence being treated like an idiot.
  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 Mercola.com and NaturalNews.com 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, you want to read accurate articles about that company so you can invest wisely.  If you are planning on voting in an election, you want to read as much good information on a candidate so you can vote for the person who best represents your ideas and beliefs.  Fake news will not help you make money or make the world a better place, but real news can.

Prof Comm PowerPoint

Do You Have a Bias?

Bias? Satire? Fake? Lies?

There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.

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. (example: AmericanNews.com)


2:
 Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information (example: ConsciousLifeNews.com)

3: 
Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions

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 (1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (4.) It is the reader's job to assess the quality of the content, particularly before using it to make an argument or sharing the information with others.

Help! My News is Fake!

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. 

The foundation of this guide was created by KT Lowe at Indiana University East. Please feel free to share this guide with others.  If you are a librarian or teacher, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes.  If you do, I'd love to hear about it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.