The term”fake news” has been going around a lot lately. Fake news has been around for quite a long time, it’s just that it gets around a lot faster through social media. So what is fake news? Fake news is just that – made-up information in the form of news reports, hoaxes and propaganda. Fake news looks legitimate and is spread usually online through Twitter, email, Facebook and other forms of social media. How often have you looked at a photograph or a “news” story on your Facebook feed and automatically believed it to be true? According to a study by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, middle and high school students as well as college students cannot effectively evaluate information they see online.(Domonoske)
Here are some questions you need to ask in order to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake:
- What do you think of it? Does it make sense? Is it believable?
- Are there spelling or grammatical errors? Spelling and/or grammatical errors can indicate that the author or publisher are not professionals
- Does it seem biased?
- Can you tell who published it or who wrote it? This should be evident. If looking at a web site, check the About Us page
- Do they cite their sources? Reputable writers and publishers always cite their sources of information or provide links to them
- Pay attention to the URL. Be wary of URLs that end in .co. For instance, abcnews.com is legitimate, but abcnews.com.co is not.
- Be careful of “Sponsored” content. This is paid for by an advertiser
- Has this been reported anywhere else? Do a Google search. If it is real and newsworthy, you should be able to find it elsewhere
- Can you find more than one reliable source to verify the facts?
How can you help stop the spread of fake news?
If you find a fake news story, don’t share it. If someone sends you a fake news story, be nice and tell them it is not true. Also, Facebook allows you to report posts if you think they might be harmful or inappropriate.
Here are some helpful fact checking sites to help you determine if a story is true or not:
Snopes.com -To check on practically everything
Factcheck.org – For checking political facts
Hoax-Slayer – For internet and social media rumors, hoaxes, and email scams.
Domonoske, Camila. “Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds.” NPR, NPR, 23 Nov. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.
“Ferreting Out Fake News.” Teacher Librarian, Dec. 2016, pp. 32–33.