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  • Writer's picturePublieke Getuienis

How to identify fake news

Beware of fake (or misleading) news. Be skeptical. Question and verify information before sharing. It is up to you.

1. Do a visual assessment

View the overall design of the website or piece of information. Fake news articles or sites usually look amateurish, have lots of annoying adverts, and use low quality or stolen images.

Ask yourself: does the news article and website seem high quality? If not, it is probably fake.

2. Identify the news outlet

Ask yourself if the news outlet (or source) is well known, well respected, and trustworthy.

Before sharing (regardless of how juicy or shocking the story is), find out who wrote and published the article. Search for the website and/or author online and look at what other people are saying about their credibility.

3. Assess the web domain

Does the URL seem legitimate? Many fake news sites' URL's look odd or end with "" or ".lo" (e.g., to mimic legitimate news sites.

4. Read the site's 'about us' section

Trustworthy news outlets usually share detailed background information, policy statements, and contact information (emails or telephone numbers) in the "About/About Us" section on their website.

Does the site provide a detailed background and contact information? If not, be wary.

5. Who wrote the information?

Establish if the article has a trusted author. Fake news articles often don't include the name of the author.

If included, search the author's name online to see if he or she is well known and respected.

6. Identify the central message

Read the article carefully. Fake news articles often push one viewpoint, have an angry tone, or make outrageous claims. News writing is supposed to be objective, in other words factual, to-the-point, and unbiased.

Does the article seem fair, balanced, and reasonable? If not, you are probably dealing with false information.

7. Look for errors

If the article has misspelled words, words in ALL CAPS, poor grammar, or lots of "!!!!,"

it is unreliable.

Any news source worth their salt will not make any stylistic or grammatical errors.

8. Analyze the sources and quotes

A legitimate news story contains quotes from reputable sources. You can do your own research on the individual quoted in the article and decide whether the person is trustworthy.

Fake news articles often cite anonymous sources, unreliable sources, or no sources at all.

9. Find other articles with the same information

If you can't find any other pieces of information covering the same topic, chances are the story is fake.

Why is no one else covering the story if it is indeed so shocking and true?

10. The story seems extraordinary

If the information sounds too incredible to be true, it probably is. Take a closer look, examine the evidence laid out in the article, and use your common sense.

11. Content and headline mismatch

If the headline is made up of eye-catching, emotive statements that don’t match the story content exactly, you are probably reading fake news.

12. The information can only be accessed via a link or post

Many people impersonate a reliable news outlet. Go directly to the alleged publication’s website and see if you can find the information there.

If you can't find the information anywhere else but on a certain link or post, it is definitely fake.

*Information obtained from ProQuest Guided Research

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