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Arkansas State University

Fake News: Fake News

Learn how to spot and avoid fake news.

Types of Fake News

Social Media Fake News: Many fake news websites create stories solely to share false or misleading information through social media platforms, such as Facebook. Many of these stories rely on "outrage" to generate likes, shares, and clicks (which leads to profits for them). Be wary of any social media news post that creates an immediate, strong reaction.

Fake News: Unfortunately, there are many websites that purposefully circulate misleading and false information. Sometimes this is done to push political views, but often it's to generate revenue through clicks, shares, and heavy advertisements.

Click Bait: You won't believe how unreliable these sites are! Don't click on click bait - all they care about is revenue. These is why many click bait sites require you to click through pages and pages before revealing the "big twist" (if there even is one).

Satire: Satire can be a source of humorous political and social commentary, but can sometimes be mistaken for truth. A good example of a satire website that is regularly mistaken for real news is The Onion.

Spotting Fake News

Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).

Watch out for websites that end in “” as they are often fake versions of real news sources 

Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.

Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.

Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.

Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).

Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.

Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.

If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.

If the website you’re reading encourages you to dox individuals (doxing is searching for and publishing private or identifying information about someone on the Internet, typically with malicious intent), it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.

It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Verify and contextualize information with other sources.

2016  by Melissa Zimdars. (Made  available  under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  International  License.)


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