Spotting Fake News

Some websites are created to mimic mainstream news sites:

  • 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: http://abcnews.com.co/ (fake site) is not the ABC Network News http://abcnews.go.com, but the logo and the URL are almost identical.

Advertisements designed to look like news stories:

  • Look for labels: a corporate logo. Or a tiny statement indicating Paid Post, Advertisement, or Sponsored by. Or the tiny Ad Choices triangle at the upper right corner of an image.

Satire (for example, The Onion).

Examples of Fake News Websites

Here's one list of former and current fake news sites: Wikipedia's list of fake news websites.

Spotting Media Manipulation

YouTube Video: Emotional Language

"What is emotional language or fearmongering? Emotions are powerful tools of persuasion. Research shows that using emotional words, especially ones that evoke negative emotions such as fear or outrage, increases the viral potential of social media content. This use of negative emotional words to manipulate is sometimes referred to as quot;fearmongering".

How to be sure it’s emotional language/fearmongering?
- A piece of social media content (like a Tweet) is peppered with emotionally charged words
- The addition of such words evokes strong and usually negative emotions, usually fear or outrage
- Without the emotionally charged words, the content is not nearly as compelling"