Fake News: What Is It & How To Spot It

Amanda Swank, Editor-in-Chief

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You’ve probably heard the term “fake news”, a term that has since blown up, especially in politics. But what exactly constitutes false journalism and how does that affect the way that Americans interpret media? From that fake photo of Justin Bieber eating a burrito to the public’s opinion on climate change, fake news impacts American’s everyday lives more than it might seem.

What is it?

During recent years, the definition of the term became muddled. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “fake news” as “false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”. According to Claire Wardle of First Draft News, there are seven different types of fake news:

 1. Satire or Parody: this type of fake news doesn’t have any bad intentions, but has the potential to trick someone into believing it. (Think The Onion)

 2. False Connection: uses headlines or captions that don’t support the content of the article.

 3. Misleading Content: this type of news uses misleading info to usually frame an individual or an issue.

 4. False Context: occurs when real content is published with false contextual information.

 5. Impostor Content: includes false content, usually with made-up sources.

6. Manipulated Content: utilizes real information that is changed in order to fool people.

7. Fabricated Content: this content is completely false with the intention to misinform others. Can be seen in headlines falsely claiming the death of a celebrity.

How can I spot it?

Spotting fake news can be tough; here are some tips on how to spot it!

1. Check your bias: Make sure that your beliefs aren’t clouding your judgment.

2. Consider the source: Research the source to make sure it’s credible.

3. Read beyond the headline: Sometimes headlines can be deceiving, read the whole thing first.

4. Check the date: Older news being presented as new can often trigger confusion.

5. Check the author: Make sure the author is a real person! Are they credible?

6. Make sure it’s not satire: Stay away from The Onion and Clickhole if you want legitimate news.

7. Are there supporting sources?: Check the facts, especially in scientific articles.

8. Consult an expert: If you’re not sure if a source is fake, consult a local expert, like a librarian or a fact-checking site.