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Evaluating websites, news and media: Fake news

Fake news

The term "fake news" is used to mean disseminated information or material that is one or more of following:

  • Blatantly, intentionally false or misleading
  • Hyperpartisan (displaying extreme political bias)
  • Severely lacking in credible attribution or supporting evidence
  • Old, verified news presented or repackaged as brand-new
  • Satirical or patently absurd (The Onion is an example)

Watch out for misappropriation of the phrase "fake news" applied to settings to cast doubt on news sources or information that is actually true. 

Alternative terms you may hear in relation to inaccurate information sharing:

  • Misinformation is information that is inaccurate but not necessarily with a malicious intent.
  • Disinformation encompasses deliberately false or misleading information, often with an intent to manipulate, control, or confuse. Strategic disinformation is often organised and capitalises on automated search tools to increase its viewership. 

How to spot fake news?

  • Consider the source: investigate the website it is on.
  • Read beyond: Headlines draw you in but read the whole story.
  • Check the author: are they credible and real?
  • Supporting sources: click on the links and determine if they support the story.
  • Check the date: reposting old stories doesn't mean they are still relevant.
  • Is it a joke? It could be a satire.
  • Check your biases: your own beliefs could affect your judgement.
  • Ask the experts: consult a fact checking site.

Lateral reading is a powerful digital literacy strategy to combat fake news. Watch the video below to learn more.

Fact checking websites

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