Spotting Fake News Stories
Sensational stories have always been present in the media, but the phenomenon of “fake news” has become a serious problem since the last U.S. Presidential election. Fake news websites knowingly publish stories that have little or no basis in truth or fact for the express purpose of drawing more traffic with catchy headlines. The problem of fake news is exacerbated by the fact that many Americans get their news primarily from social media, according to one study from Pew Research Center.
To keep yourself from being duped by fake news stories, here are a few tips for how to recognize them.
- Check the source. One of the easiest ways to find out if a news story is true is to check it against a couple credible news sites such as The New York Times, USA TODAY, CNN, or The Washington Post. If the sources don’t agree, the story is probably not reliable.
- Run the story through a fact-checker site, such as Snopes.com, Factcheck.org, or PolitiFact.
- Take a closer look at the website. A disreputable source may have an incomplete or questionable “About us” page, other stories that look shady or fake, or a domain name that looks like a reputable domain but with just a few letters changed, (e.g., abcnews.com.co instead of the real abcnews.com).
(Blog post written by Research Desk Assistant, Lauren Cole)