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Think before you click and share…

How to spot fake news.

Before you share that article on Facebook or email it to all your friends, take a moment do a little fact checking. Whenever you come across an article online (or even in print), it’s important to be proactive about identifying if it’s from a reliable source or not.

In the information age, it’s very easy for false information to spread quickly thanks to the “like” and “share” buttons.

Here are a few ways to spot fake news found online.

1)      Consider the source: Take a look at the domain name. Strange URLs or web addresses are signs that you should be wary and dig a little deeper to find out of the content is legitimate. Sometimes fake news sites will use web addresses designed to make them look like real sites.

2)      Search for visual clues: Fake news websites may use poor design and look unprofessional. They may also overuse ALL CAPS.

3)      Read the “About Us” section: Most sites will have a page devoted to information about the news outlet/organization publishing the articles. If the page seems very sparse, overly dramatic, be skeptical.

4)      Look for quotes…or lack thereof: Notable publications typically have multiple sources for stories and seek experts on the topics being covered. For serious and controversial issues, there should be quotes or links to other well-founded resources to corroborate what’s being written.

5)      Check the comments: Headlines are meant to grab attention, but they should also reflect what the article is about. Sometimes headlines are deliberately misleading and attached to stories that are unrelated or just plain untrue. If that’s the case, other people are likely to have noticed. If a lot of the comments are from readers calling the article fake or misleading, then it probably is.  

6)      Get a second opinion: If you have a strong reaction to a story, especially if it makes you angry, consult other news sources. Strong reactions make us more likely to share an article right away rather than see if it’s real first.

7)      When in doubt, ask a librarian.  


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About the Author

Emma is an Adult Services Librarian with the New Berlin Public Library... Read More »

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