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5 Ways To Spot Fake News from Common Sense Media
Basic Questions to Ask About Any News Media
Here are a few basic questions to consider whenever you encounter a piece of media:
- Who made this?
- Who is the target audience?
- Who paid for this? Or, who gets paid if you click on this?
- Who might benefit or be harmed by this message?
- What is left out of this message that might be important?
- Is this credible (and what makes you think that)?
(Thanks to Project Look Sharp for these questions.)
Evaluating a News Article Infographic from EasyBib
How to Spot Fake News
Further tips from Common Sense Media to help you spot fake news:
You might enjoy learning tricks to spot fake news. Here are a few things to watch for:
- Look for unusual URLs or site names, including those that end with ".co" -- these are often trying to appear like legitimate news sites, but they aren't.
- Look for signs of low quality, such as words in all caps, headlines with glaring grammatical errors, bold claims with no sources, and sensationalist images (women in bikinis are popular clickbait on fake news sites). These are clues that you should be skeptical of the source.
- Check a site's "About Us" section. Find out who supports the site or who is associated with it. If this information doesn't exist -- and if the site requires that you register before you can learn anything about its backers -- you have to wonder why they aren't being transparent.
- Check Snopes, Wikipedia, and Google before trusting or sharing news that seems too good (or bad) to be true.
- Consider whether other credible, mainstream news outlets are reporting the same news. If they're not, it doesn't mean it's not true, but it does mean you should dig deeper.
- Check your emotions. Clickbait and fake news strive for extreme reactions. If the news you're reading makes you really angry or super smug, it could be a sign that you're being played. Check multiple sources before trusting.
(Thanks to Professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College for some of these tips.)
5 Ways Fake News Websites are Evolving, written by Craig Silverman. August 24, 2016. Published on First Draft, a project of the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center.
Fact or Fiction? Snopes activity
Deceptive Detective Poster
Put a News Article to the Test
Scott Bedley, a teacher, started asking his students to examine seven different elements of a news article. If the information checks out on each of these points, it has a high likelihood of being accurate. Still, passing the test is not a guarantee that it’s fact.
- Copyright: have students to check the bottom of the webpage to see if the information has been submitted for ownership.
- Verification with multiple sources: Students must double check the information on a few different web pages. Like in a trial, the more corroborating witnesses, the more likely the truth will be discovered.
- Credibility of source, such as between History.com versus a random unknown source: check if the source has been recently created. Sources that have been around for a while can show reliability over time and be tested by hindsight, whereas recently created sources don’t carry much of a track record.
- Date published: check how recently the page was updated to see how current the information is and whether anything has changed.
- Author's expertise and background with the subject: Students should check if the author is someone who has dedicated time and effort to learning this subject. For example, a university professor typically has increased credibility versus a hobbyist.
- Does it match your prior knowledge: does the information matches up with what they have learned before
- Does it seem realistic: use common sense. Does something seem authentic or probable?
IFL Fake News Infographic
How do you know it's Clickbait? Here are some clues to look out for:
- Headlines. Any bold claims, such as "You won't believe what happened next," are red flags that a story is clickbait.
- Weird GIFs. Animated images that illustrate something unusual and that lure you into investigating are usually invitations to scams.
- Make-money-at-home schemes. Anything that promises you can make money by not lifting a finger is fraudulent.
- Enticing photos. Scantily clad bodies, diseases, distorted images -- these are all clickbait and lead nowhere good.
- Sales. Whatever you've shopped for recently often turns up in your social media feed or on your Google search results.
- Contests and gimmicks. Slogans such as "Share this!" or "You've Won!" tend to lead to more clickbait -- and they may harbor malware.
Work on learning how not only to spot clickbait but to resist clicking on it.
- Feelings before. Before you click, think about what the headline is asking you to do and why. Pausing that extra moment de-escalates the impulse to click.
- Feelings after. OK, so you clicked. What did you see? How did you feel? Was it a waste? What could you have been doing if you hadn't gone down the rabbit hole?
Taken from: https://www.commonsensemedia.org
These resources are culled from CommonSense Media, First News, and InCntrl. Thanks to Sue Rose at Chester Barrows Elementary School for creating her school LibGuide on Fake News.