Fake News is a provable lie (or manipulated photo/video/audio) which is presented as factually accurate.

This is not to be confused with:

  • opinion pieces
  • biased or selective reporting
  • satirical websites like the ONION

Reasons to produce fake news:

  • mislead the consumer, for example:
    • during a political campaign
    • regarding health information
    • in an attempt to influence a company's stock
    • in order to smear a person's reputation
  • produce clickbait, which generates revenue for a website or statistics on social media

Strategies to detect fake news:

  • are there any sources cited in the news item?
    • if so, do these sources exist? Look them up and determine if claims made in the story match the actual source(s)
    • consider what information or perspective(s) may be absent which would make the story more convincing
  • consider where the news came from
    • look at the URL: does it appear legitimate? If you searched the web for that site's name, does it lead to the same URL? (Sometimes fake sites will slightly modify a well-known site's URL)
    • read through the 'About Us' page online
    • review some of the other news published by the outlet: does it seem legitimate and can you find similar news items from other sources?
    • is there an author/reporter? If so, see what else they have written
  • for more insight, see search results for fake news on Journalist's Resource (Harvard Kennedy School)
  • and explore this Fake News Game, designed to simulate spreading fake news so that players can better-recognize how it is done

Tools to evaluate the news:

An example of fake news:

Tools and resources to analyze and retreive web content over time:

Books from the Library:

Online Guides:

Content last reviewed: