Fake news is nothing new. But bogus stories can reach more people more quickly via social media than what good old-fashioned viral emails could accomplish in years past. Clickbait, hyper-partisan opinion, and completely false information are running wild across the internet.
Here’s our advice on how to spot fake news and a few resources that can help you as you sort through the facts.
Consider the source. Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission, and contact info.
Read beyond the headline. Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What’s the whole story?
Check the author. Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
What’s the support? Click on those sources listed. Determine if the information given actually supports the story.
Check the date. Reposting old news stories doesn’t mean they are relevant to current events.
Is this some kind of joke? If it’s too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
Check your biases. Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement.
Consult the experts. Ask a librarian or consult a fact-checking site like those listed below. It’s likely at least one has already fact-checked the latest viral claim to pop up in your news feed.
- PolitiFact: The Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that uses a Truth-O-Meter to rate the accuracy of elected officials and others.
- Snopes: Since 1994, Snopes has been investigating urban legends, hoaxes and folklore. Today it’s the oldest and largest fact-checking site online.