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What to Do about Fake News: Tools for Analysis

This guide provides tips on how to use analytical skills to evaluate information and avoid getting snookered by fake news.

"Do You Think You Can Tell When Something Is ‘Fake News’?"

Discuss fake news in the classroom or at the dinner table with help from the New York Times. The Learning Network, the Times' section on teaching and learning, provides reading materials and discussion question in "Do You Think You Can Tell When Something Is ‘Fake News’?"

The Lane Community College Library provides online subscriptions to the New York Times for all students, faculty, and staff members. Sign up for your free New York Times account.

Intro to Information Analysis

Fake news is difficult to avoid in today's digital, connected world. The best defense is to read all content through a critical lens. 

See right through fake news with these tips and tools for analysis!

Image remixed from TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES! and 1963 ... television eyeglasses by James Vaughn (both under CC BY-NC-SA licenses)

Strategies for Analysis

​​Date

  • Look at the date. News changes fast! Is the article not relevant anymore?

Author

  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
  • If an author is listed, search for them in Google and see if you can find more information about them (such as their profession, educational background, other pieces of writing, etc).

Sponsoring Organization

  • Watch out for websites URL variations (such as those that end in “.com.co”) as they could be fake news sites posing as legitimate news sources.  
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • Also search for the name of the sponsoring organization or publisher in Google.

​Content Analysis

  • Are other known/reputable news sites reporting on the story? Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
  • Some news organizations let bloggers post on certain pages of their website (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs). These posts do not necessarily go through the same editing and fact-checking process as posts on the organization’s main website.
  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY, research the topic using other sources to make sure the story you read is accurate. Often fake news sites purposefully try to trigger an emotional response to generate shares on social media. 

For best results, read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames.

How to Spot Fake News

This infographic from the International Federation of Library Associations keeps it simple. Here's a pdf version of the graphic below.

an infographic called How to Spot Fake News

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