Outsmarting Fake News: Shawano Public Library Workshop

What Is Fake News?

Cool article with helpful charts: Fake News. It's Complicated

According to the article Deception Detection for News, there are three main categories of "deceptive" news:

  • Serious fabrications
  • Large-scale hoaxes
  • News satire

The authors also point out that "genuine" news sources can contain "finger pointing":

In political events, territorial conflicts, wars or other current controversies, news channels or individual reporters may be accused of partisanship, blindness, or straight out lies. Such situations do not meet the intentional lying criterion, since reporting is likely to be consistent with the reporter’s beliefs, worldview, biases, or affiliations. 

Sounds like what we discussed in the Bias section, doesn't it? :)


According to Merrimack College media professor Melissa Zimdars, who created a list of False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sourcesthere are four broad categories of fake news:

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.  Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not.   It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.

From Indiana University East Campus Library Fake News Guide

Why Should I Care?

Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?

  1. You deserve the truth.  You are smart enough to make up your own mind - as long as you have the real facts in front of you.  You have every right to be insulted when you read fake news, because you are in essence being treated like an idiot.
  2. Fake news destroys your credibility.  If your arguments are built on bad information, it will be much more difficult for people to believe you in the future.
  3. Fake news can hurt you, and a lot of other people.  Purveyors of fake and misleading medical advice like Mercola.com and NaturalNews.com help perpetuate myths like HIV and AIDS aren't related, or that vaccines cause autism.  These sites are heavily visited and their lies are dangerous.
  4. Real news can benefit you.  If you want to buy stock in a company, you want to read accurate articles about that company so you can invest wisely.  If you are planning on voting in an election, you want to read as much good information on a candidate so you can vote for the person who best represents your ideas and beliefs.  Fake news will not help you make money or make the world a better place, but real news can.

From What is Wrong With Fake News (UTA Libraries)

How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study

New York Times Case Study

"The New York Times deconstructs how Mr. Tucker’s now-deleted declaration on Twitter the night after the election turned into a fake-news phenomenon."