Consider the source – Click away from the story to investigate the site and its mission.
Read beyond the headline – If the headline is shocking, read further before sharing.
Check the author – Search the author’s name, does he/she have an authority on the topic of which he/she is writing?
What’s the support – Bogus stories often site official or official sounding sources. Click on those links to determine if the information given actually supports the story.
Check the date – Some false stories aren’t completely fake, but distortions of real events, that are twisted to relate to current events.
Is it a joke? – Remember there are parody and satire sites!
Triangulate - Can you find at least two other sources that are publishing similar information?
Check for bias – What other stories have been posted to the site that is the source of the story?
Check your own bias - Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement.
Consult the experts – Ask a librarian or consult a fact-checking site. Most of the time one of these sources has evaluated a viral claim.
Recommended Fact-Checking Sites
There are plenty of reputable fact-checking sites that investigate controversial stories in detail, and provide sourced information and greater context to help you understand the real story. Here are some of the best and best-known:
MLS Fake News Page – This is a resource page from the Massachusetts Library System, a state agency for libraries and their patrons.
What is Fake News?
There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College:
Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information
Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news
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