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Peace Dale Elementary School Library: Fake News Resources

Please see credits and acknowledgements at bottom of page!

5 Ways To Spot Fake News from Common Sense Media

Basic Questions to Ask About Any News Media

Common Sense Media recommends that you keep the following questions in mind regarding any 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.)

Can You Tell Real from Fake?

It's time to test your skills!  Using the worksheet below, see whether you can evaluate whether the following websites are real or if they are fake.

The Greenleaf Pet Resort and Hotel

The Fur Bearing Trout

Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division

Dog Island

Use the worksheet below to help you navigate through these websites by picking up clues and information.  Worksheet courtesy of the Media Awareness Network and ReadWriteThink.

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.)

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.

  1. Copyright: have students to check the bottom of the webpage to see if the information has been submitted for ownership.
  2. 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.
  3. Credibility of source, such as between 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.
  4. Date published:  check how recently the page was updated to see how current the information is and whether anything has changed.
  5. 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.
  6. Does it match your prior knowledge: does the information matches up with what they have learned before
  7. Does it seem realistic:  use common sense. Does something seem authentic or probable?


IFL Fake News Infographic

Can You Read a Web Page?

The following files are screenshots from, a popular website.  Let's see if you can tell news from .... well, let's see what it really is!!

We'll spend some time examining features on the first screenshot of the site, and then get into a deeper analysis with the second screenshot.




Thank you to Librarian Susan Rose of the Chester E. Barrows Elementary School in Cranston for allowing me to use this page that she created!


Many thanks to the excellent resources available at CommonSense Media, especially for the article on their website posted on 3/20/2017 by Sierra Filucci.  We are indebted to Common Sense Media for their high quality materials.

And for parents/families: