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Fake News

Information and activities about fake news

What is fake news?


Fake news -- Some people define "fake news" as news that is created to make money. Other people broaden the definition to include deliberate spread of misinformation to persuade someone.  "Language, statistical figures, graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence." (Carl Bergstrom)

Post-truth -- "Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." Oxford Dictionaries

Bias -- prejudice, unfounded skewing of information

Perspective -- Point of view, standpoint, how someone interprets the facts

Spin -- selective telling of facts, using tone to project bias, using language to elicit a response

Truth -- "collections of data"

Unethical journalistic practices -- inventing sources, for instance

Yellow Journalism -- term used to describe sensational headlines intended to sell newspapers

Types of Fake News

Claire Wardle of First Draft News identifies seven types of fake news:

  • satire or parody ("no intention to cause harm but has potential to fool")
  • false connection ("when headlines, visuals or captions don't support the content")
  • misleading content ("misleading use of information to frame an issue or an individual")
  • false context ("when genuine content is shared with false contextual information")
  • impostor content ("when genuine sources are impersonated" with false, made-up sources)
  • manipulated content ("when genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive", as with a "doctored" photo)
  • fabricated content ("new content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm")

What's wrong with fake news?

Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?

  1. You deserve the truth.  You are smart enough to make up your own mind - as long as you have the real facts in front of you.  You have every right to be insulted when you read fake news, because you are in essence being treated like an idiot.
  2. Fake news destroys your credibility.  If your arguments are built on bad information, it will be much more difficult for people to believe you in the future.
  3. Fake news can hurt you, and a lot of other people.  Purveyors of fake and misleading medical advice like and help perpetuate myths like HIV and AIDS aren't related, or that vaccines cause autism.  These sites are heavily visited and their lies are dangerous.
  4. Real news can benefit you.  If you want to buy stock in a company, you want to read accurate articles about that company so you can invest wisely.  If you are planning on voting in an election, you want to read as much good information on a candidate so you can vote for the person who best represents your ideas and beliefs.  Fake news will not help you make money or make the world a better place, but real news can.


Material in this guide is heavily borrowed from LibGuides at SUNY Geneseo and Indiana University East.