Fight Fake News

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Fighting fake news is not only about fact checking the stories you hear, it is also about holding the information you consume and the people or places you hear it from accountable. Acting as a critical consumer of information is the first defense against problematic news sources and misleading content. Check out the following tried and true methods for detecting fake news below. 

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NewsGuard, "The Internet Trust Tool"

24/7 Fact-Checking, Right in Your Browser

NewsGuard is a one-of-its-kind media literacy tool that aids internet news consumers to navigate through reliable and unreliable news sources online.

Quick Fact-Checking Websites:

The ACT-Up Method of Assessing Information 

Who is the author? Do they have the qualifications or credentials to be writing on this topic? What else have they written? Where else is the information published?

Russian bots are known to make fake online personas to push fake news stories. Search an author's name to see what else they have written and whether they are part of a reputable news agency, or whether they exist at all! 

Especially on social media, watch out for inauthentic accounts and users that obscure their identity, the origin of content, or consistently promote unverified content from suspicious news websites. 

Typo-squatting is a method of deception bad actors use to lure internet users to fake news websites for hacking and malicious purposes under false pretenses. Typo-squatting counts on the likelihood that users accidentally type in an incorrect web-address, such as faceboook.com instead of facebook.com, which automatically redirects the user to a fake website. 

Learn about the methods Russian bots used to infiltrate social media platforms in the 2016 election. 

Check out how social media companies are combating inauthentic activity and fake news ahead of the 2020 election. 

When was the information written? Is it out of date? When was it last revised? 

Images are often recycled or manipulated to draw interest and provide "proof" for a fake news story. Legit photos usually carry the byline of the original photographer, or a watermark for a real company, like Getty Images.  

If an image seems too convenient, unrealistic, out of date, or out of context, do a reverse image Google search to see where else it may have appeared. 

The increasingly sophisticated methods of manipulating photo, video, and audio content has made it extremely difficult to decipher if what we see online is real or fake. Check out our page on deepfakes to learn more about advanced media manipulation. 

Is the story laden with emotional language? Are the claims corroborated by other sources? What evidence do they present? How was the information discovered?

If the headline is outlandish and provocative, the story might be false. "Clickbait" headlines, or intentionally over-sensationalized headlines, attempt to draw attention and drive internet traffic to a particular site. Tabloid magazines and political satire websites routinely use clickbait headlines to draw an audience. 

If a story is important enough, it won't be covered by only one publication. Check other reputable news outlets to see if they are running the same story.

Identify the sources included in a news story. Does the author rely on credible individuals, experts or government officials for relevant facts? Scientific claims should be peer-reviewed and cited in a reputable scientific journal. Although many people who provide information to the news media operate under the veil of anonymity, their qualifications should be included, and, if possible, multiple sources should be present to corroborate their claims

"Leaking" is a notorious political tactic for sources to provide confidential or sensitive information to the media anonymously at opportune moments. Although much of leaked information can be true, information coming from anonymous sources should be properly vetted. 

Wikileaks.com is notorious for publishing leaked, or stolen, classified information. 

What is the author's purpose or aim of the story? Are factual claims backed up with evidence? Does the author clearly separate fact and opinion?

Be aware of confirmation bias. Audiences are more likely to trust and believe information that may not be true but that confirms their personal beliefs. Evidence should always accompany factual claims. 

Be aware of how your own biases impact how you evaluate the credibility or truth of a news report. Be willing to admit what is fact and what is opinion, and examine how the author reached their conclusions. 

Learn about why we believe conspiracy theories, and how confirmation bias may have led to the NASCAR noose controversy

Is there a lack of diversity in viewpoints or experiences in the authorship? Were all relevant sources included? Is any specific group being intentionally left out of the conversation?

IMVAIN: A tool for assessing legitimacy of media sources

What is the author's motive in writing the story? Whose interests are represented? 

Professional standards and the work routines of journalists often results in an over-reliance on official government sources and well-known public figures.

Learn more about news values

Does the story include quotes? How many sources does the author include? Does the author include a wide range of opinions and perspectives on the issue? Is the source included the closest individual to the issue at hand? Is there someone else more qualified? 

Does the article use evidence, examples, and data to support the story? Do sources in the news story simple assert their opinion, or do they make factual claims backed by evidence? Does the article provide access to original information for readers to verify themselves? 

What is the type of evidence an article presents? Does the author include expert opinion? Scientific claims should be backed by credible scientific institutions, such as the CDC, or FDA. 

Reputable news agencies provide up-to-date information. Does the article present the most recent information, and is it updated to reflect changing circumstances? Does the author break down complex issues effectively and accurately? 

Is the author of the article named? Most credible journalists are contactable and are able to be held publicly accountable. Are sources speaking on the record, or under the guise of anonymity? Was the information leaked? 

Test Your Ability to Fact Check:

Try the News Literacy Group's quiz to see if you can spot false or misleading stories.

Factitious is a game designed by American University that asks players to identify news articles and determine if they're real or fake.

//Page Written By: Christina Georgacopoulos & Grayce Mores