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Fake news!: How to spot fake news

Types of Fake News

  • Clickbait: a story, often sensational or featuring a sensational headline, aimed toward getting "clicks" (to generate ad revenue).

  • Sponsored content: A story that is made to appear as independent journalism when in fact it is advertising.

  • Fabricated journalism: news stories that are completely made up (including fabricated quotes and sources).

Further reading:


Sponsored content:

How to "decipher" fake news

  • Read beyond the headline - What's the whole story? Be wary of outrageous headlines, called "clickbait", are designed to grab your attention, such as ads may disguised as news.

  • Consider the source -  What's the purpose of the website? Is it objective, impartial, unbiased? Read the "About Us" section to learn about its mission. Look for contact information. Pay attention to the URL; be wary of websites with unusual domains such as .com or .co.

  • Check the author(s) - Are they real? What are their credentials? What qualifies them as experts on the subject they are writing about?

  • Check the date - When was the information published? Has it been revised or updated? Some websites repost old news stories .

  • Check the links - Are they working? Do they take you to other credible websites? Don't trust an article or website with a lot of broken links.

  • Check the comments - Clickbait stories generate a lot of comment, especially on social media, and many call out the article for being fake or misleading.

  • Evaluate supporting quotes - Who or what being quoted? Is the source real? Is it credible? Does the information given reinforce the story's claims?

  • Ask:"Is this a joke?" - Writers often use satire to expose and criticise foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society. Satirical articles are reliable sources for research.

  • Ask:"Are my own beliefs affecting my judgment?" - Confirmation bias lead people to accept information that confirms their beliefs and ignore information that doesn't. Seek contrasting view points to develop a more well-rounded understanding of the issue.

  • Conduct a reverse image search - A photo should accurately reflect what the article is about.


EBSCO Connect. (2019). Lesson plan: Spotting fake news and images on the web.

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