Fake news is an article, website, or social media post that was created with intentionally false information. It is usually designed to evoke a strong emotional response – which urges people to share the fake news on social media.
Example: Someone made a Twitter account that used what looked a lot like the icon for the BBC. The fake account used a photo of the Queen of England and said that she had died. The fake news got passed around social media very quickly. In reality, the Queen was very much alive and well!
Some adults think that fake news means “news I disagree with”. That criteria doesn’t work because there is also fake news that was designed to target people who would happily agree with what the article was about.
How to spot fake news:
Check the source. Real news comes from well recognized websites like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, or the BBC (to name a few).
Check who else is reporting the same story. When real news happens, it is quickly reported on all of the well-established news websites. If you find an outrageous article that none of the credible news sites are reporting about – the story is fake.
Check the date. People sometimes pass around a news article from several years ago and tell you that the news in the article is happening today. In this case, the news was real, but is being used to keep people misinformed.
Check the photo. There have been many times when someone grabs a photo, puts it on social media, and makes up a fake news story about it. Check the photo carefully. If the news logo in the corner of the photo doesn’t match the website it is on – it is probably being used for fake news. You can also put a questionable photo into Google Images and see if it can track down the original source for you.
Check the bottom of the website. If a political party created a website – there are rules that say they must disclose it. Usually, that disclosure is posted in tiny print way at the bottom of the website. Read the About Page on the website. It can reveal what organizations, political parties, or religious groups the website is connected to. Biased websites often write fake news.
Check to see if the article was listed as “Sponsored Content”. That phrase is used to indicate that the article you are about to read isn’t actually news at all – it is an advertisement.
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