Did your mother call you to tell you that liberals hate science? Did your Facebook feed pop up with an article on a new pesticide that's going to kill us all? You might have heard one or both of these stories, but there's one thread connecting them: they're not true.
The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life. This guide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online, plus a chance to exercise your newfound skills.
There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.
Fake/False: Websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
Misleading: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information.
Clickbait: Headlines whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.
Satire/Comedy: Sites which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news.
No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Fake/False), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Misleading), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Clickbait) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Satire/Comedy). Some articles fall under more than one category. Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.
This guide was created by KT Lowe at Indiana University East and modified for QVCC by Jennifer Cournoyer. Please feel free to share this guide with others. If you are a librarian or teacher, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes. If you do, KT would love to hear about it.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Wired. “Here’s How Fake News Works (and How the Internet Can Stop It).” YouTube, animation by Josh Lim, 14 Feb. 2017, youtu.be/frjITitjisY.