Spotting Fake News
Don't let Fake Stories Ruin Your Credibility as a Researcher
Why Are We Hearing So Much About Fake News?
The Scope of the Fake News Problem (Spoiler Alert: It's Bad.)
What You Can Do To Spot Fake or Manipulated News
1. Understand These Terms
IMPLICIT BIAS: "Implicit bias refers to the idea that as humans we have a tendency to group people into categories. We are inclined to trust people we consider a member of our own group more than those of a different group. The word implicit indicates that it is a bias that influences us without our knowing it."
CONFIRMATION BIAS: "Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to seek out information that confirms what we already know or believe to be true. We are likely to believe “facts” that conform to our beliefs. More startling, we may actually turn a blind eye to facts that contradict our beliefs. We usually think of seeing as believing, but in this case, we don’t see what we don’t already believe."
CLICKBAIT: The fishing reference is legitimate. Advertisers are trying to catch your attention and make you curious enough to take the bait. Example: A social media story that reads, "This Dad Mixed Sprinkles into his Daughter's Applesauce-- YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!" The point of articles such as this is to get you to view advertising or to collect information about your searching interests. Clickbait articles are not sources-- for anything.
BRANDED CONTENT: Branded Content may seem more like entertainment, but it is really creative video advertising. Branded content focuses more on getting an emotional response from the audience rather than the product itself. Examples of successful branded content include The Lego Movie, Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and Proctor and Gamble's #LikeAGirl campaign. Branded content is meant to provide information, but be careful-- advertisements may be just hiding around the corner.
NATIVE ADVERTISING: Native Advertising can be tricky because the format matches the style of the platform that you are viewing, but its goal is to direct you to a product. Most of these articles are labeled as advertising but you need to be on top of your game to make sure that you are not being duped by them.
2. Avoid Using Articles with These Labels
- Sponsored Content
- Ads by Google
- Paid Post
- Written FOR
- Recommended for You
- Content from the Web
- Promoted by (fill in company name here)
4. Use the CARS Method
Evaluation Tools for Online Sources
If You Want to Learn More...
Brown, Damon, “How to Choose Your News.” TED-Ed, 5 June 2014, youtu.be/q-Y-z6HmRgI.
Fillucci, Sierra. “How to Spot Fake News (and Teach Kids to Be Media-Savvy).” Common Sense Media, Common Sense Media Education, 16 Nov. 2016,
Greenwood, Shannon. “Majority Say Fake News Has Left Americans Confused about Basic Facts.” Pew Research Center's Journalism Project, Pew Research Center, 14 Dec. 2016, www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/many-americans-believe-fake-news-is-sowing-confusion/pj_2016-12-15_fake-news_0-01/#.
Jacobson, Linda. “The Smell Test.” School Library Journal, Jan. 2017, pp. 24–28.
“Fake News: Why We Fall For It.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, Dec. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201612/fake-news-why-we-fall-it.
Tavlin, Noah, “How False News Can Spread.” TED-Ed, 27 Aug. 2015, youtu.be/cSKGa_7XJkg.