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"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." --Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Newsweek, 25 August 1986, p. 27.
This LibGuide is for all user groups who wish to learn about fake news, misinformation and how to spot it.

What is meant by fake news

Fake news is an expression often used to refer to fabricated news. This type of news, found in traditional news, social media or fake news websites, has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate (Wikipedia).

There are various motivations behind the creatiion of fake news: poor journalism, parody, provocation, passion, partisanship, profit, political influence or propaganda (see categories of fake news).

False information may then be disseminated in various ways: (unwittingly or deliberately) shared on social media, amplified by journalists, pushed out by loosely connected groups attempting to influence public opinion and spread as part of sophisticated disinformation campaigns using bots and troll factories. Or simply as click bait, in order to make money. Fake news often uses sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines.

Please note that intentionally misleading and deceptive fake news is different from obvious satire or parody, which is intended to amuse rather than mislead its audience.

Fake news takes all forms, any format that can convey information can also convey disinformation: print, online, podcasts, YouTube videos, radio shows, images.

Fake news has become a daily phenomenon in the changing media landscape where readers are becoming publishers themselves. Therefore being able to spot fake news and to assess the quality of news become more and more important skills.

Some examples of fake news

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor "how to spot fake news"

1."Pizzagate" was a fake news story which connected a pizzeria with a child pornography ring allegedly run by Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. On Sunday, December 3, 2016, an armed shooter entered the pizzeria and fired a shot before being accosted by the police.

2. Eric Tucker, a 35-year-old co-founder of a marketing company in Austin, Tex. sent a tweet about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations against President-elect Donald J. Trump. This fueled a nationwide conspiracy theory — one that Mr. Trump joined in promoting. Mr. Tucker's post was shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook. The problem is that Mr. Tucker got it wrong. There were no such buses packed with paid protesters. How could this fake news have spread so fast? For answers see the New York Times article How fake news goes viral: a case study.

3.. The top-performing fake news story of 2016 identified by BuzzFeedNews is a hoax from October that claimed President Obama had banned reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. It was published by, a fake site made to look like ABC News that scored six hits in the top 50. The Obama hoax generated more than 2.1 million shares, comments, and reactions on Facebook in just two months.

Some types of fake news

There are differing opinions when it comes to identifying types of fake news. However, when it comes to evaluating content online there are various types of fake or misleading news we need to be aware of. These include:

1. Clickbait
These are stories that are deliberately fabricated to gain more website visitors and increase advertising revenue for websites. Clickbait stories use sensationalist headlines to grab attention and drive click-throughs to the publisher website, normally at the expense of truth or accuracy. This is a business model!

2. Propaganda
Stories that are created to deliberately mislead audiences, promote a biased point of view or particular political cause or agenda.

3. Satire/Parody
Lots of websites and social media accounts publish fake news stories for entertainment and parody.

4. Sloppy Journalism
Sometimes reporters or journalists may publish a story with unreliable information or without checking all of the facts which can mislead audiences.

5. Misleading Headings
Stories that are not completely false can be distorted using misleading or sensationalist headlines. These types of news can spread quickly on social media sites where only headlines and small snippets of the full article are displayed on audience newsfeeds.

6. Biased/Slanted News
Many people are drawn to news or stories that confirm their own beliefs or biases and fake news can prey on these biases. Social media news feeds tend to display news and articles that they think we will like based on our personalised searches.

7. Conspiracy Theory
Sources that are well-known promoters of kooky conspiracy theories.

8. Rumor Mills
Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.

9Hate News
Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.



Questions? Ask the experts:

Subjects: Information Literacy, SmartCat, Systematic Review, OER, Fake news