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For many of us, we get our daily information from news sites and social media. This is how we keep up with the world and how we shape our opinions about important topics. However, fake news has become a growing threat to our collective intelligence and an affront to our values of accurate, unbiased and timely information. This requires us as information consumers to be far more vigilant than we have ever been before. Fortunately there are ways to spot fake news.
Fact Checking Websites
All Sides Bias Ratings
Provides readers a sense of the political leanings of the source
A product of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, this site is terrific for checking up on political claims.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact researches the claims of politicians and checks their accuracy.
One of the oldest debunking sites on the Internet, Snopes.com focuses on urban legends, news stories and memes. They also cite their sources at the end of each debunking.
A nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.
Types of Fake News
There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.
CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information
CATEGORY 3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news
No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.) Some articles fall under more than one category. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.