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Fake news, alternative facts and misinformation workshop

What is "Fake News"

Fake news is not news you disagree with -- it is content generated by non-news organizations to drive eyeballs to ads (e.g., clickbait) or to spread false information (rumors, conspiracy theories, junk science, and propaganda, for example).



What to look for:

1.  Websites created to look like familiar mainstream news sites, e.g. "Boston Tribune."

  • Look for contact information with a verifiable address and affiliation.
  • Look for an About page, often in the header or footer of the home page. Read the About page closely for evidence of partisanship or bias.  If there's no About page and no Contact page, be very skeptical.
  • In staff listings (or on the About page), look critically at the list of executives. Are they real people or stock photos? Open a new tab and look for another profile of the individual (e.g. LinkedIn).
  • Perform an independent search for the news source. Compare and verify URLs.
    Example: (fake site) is not the ABC Network News, but the logo and the URL are almost identical.

2.  Advertisements designed to look like news stories: "native advertising".

3. Satirical news (e.g. The Onion)

Another idea to consider

Fake news is not new.  Rumors, urban legends, and tabloids are potential examples of fake news and many times they can be based on a kernel of truth.  This makes finding out what is real and what is 'fake' especially difficult.  Listen to another component of the fake news phenomenon and how money plays a role in relaying misinformation.

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