Fake News

What is “fake news”?

Fake news is disinformation, hoaxes, or propaganda passed off as real news, often on social media sites or other online sources.

Some of it is obvious…

… but much of it can be hard to distinguish from facts-based news & information.

How can I tell what is real?

This can be tricky, since fake news is often presented in a way that make it hard to tell that it’s not real.  The following tips & resources can be helpful:

I. Be a Savvy Media Consumer

  • Is the headline outrageous & attention-grabbing?  Is it in ALL CAPS or a bold font?  Does it use lots of exclamation points?!?!?!
  • Is it satire or a joke, or from a site such as The Onion or Clickhole?
  • Consider the source – do a separate search for the website or author.  Are they credible?
  • Are there links to supporting sources included in the article?
  • When was the story written?  Sometimes news is real but outdated.

II. Examine Your Own Beliefs

  • Sometimes our own biases influence how we interpret what we read.
    • Are your opinions or judgment clouding your ability to discern fake news from real?
    • Are you reading a variety of news sources, including those you don’t always agree with?

III. Ask the Experts

  • Use a fact-checking website:
    • Factcheck.org
      A non-partisan fact-checking website.
    • Politifact
      Run by staff from The Tampa Bay Times, an independent publication, Politifact “checks claims by elected officials, candidates, leaders of political parties and political activists.”
    • Snopes.com
      [From the “About” section of their website] “The snopes.com web site is (and always has been) a completely independent, self-sufficient entity… Neither the site nor its operators has ever received monies from (or been engaged in any business or editorial relationship with), any sponsor, investor, partner, political party, religious group, business organization, government agency, or any other outside group or organization.”
  • Ask a Librarian!
    • Librarians are, in essence, fact-checkers by training; ask one of our staff to help you discern what is real vs. what is fake.  That’s why we’re here!

Thanks to The IFLA for this helpful infographic: