The process of deciding whether a news story is real or not can be a challenge. It’s easy to get overloaded with all the information offered to you, but examining a news story carefully is a life skill everyone should try and develop. We have a few tips to help you navigate between truth and fake news.
- Where is the news coming from? Consider how you found this article. If it’s something that showed up on your social media feed, or on a site known for clickbait, it may be fake news. If it’s from another news site, check the domain name of the site you’re reading. Often, unusual domains such as “.com.co” are fake news. You can also check who has written the news story and their credentials. If the source of where the news is coming is not clear, that could be a red flag.
- Timing is important. Notice the date of the story. It may not be up-to-date and may not be as relevant to current events. Sometimes, news outlets might also take older news stories and take them out of context.
- Figure out the purpose of the news story. Why was this story written? Was it used to promote one of the news outlet’s sponsors? (Tip: You can usually figure out who sponsors are based off of what advertisements are on the page.) Was it a the writer’s opinion? It could also be propaganda trying to push a certain political view. If the news story seems as though it was written with some sort of bias attached to it, it may not be trustworthy.
- Check fact-checking websites. Sites like factscan.org, International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), PolitiFact.com, Hoax Slayer, or Snopes.com all check whether or not a story is real or fake. Not only can you tell whether a story was true or not, but these sites often do extra research so you’re able to find out the whole story. You can also do further detective work by cross-referencing these websites and see if they line up.
- Check in with yourself. Sometimes, news stories might be too unusual or out-of-this world then it may be satire. If you think it might be too “out there” it might be worth a double check. You might also want to double check that your own beliefs aren’t clouding your judgement. Although you would really like something to be true, it’s good to double check that it really is.
For a quick reference, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) provides an infographic to help spot fake news.
When news comes out, it may not be accurate right away. Here is a Breaking News Consumers quick reference sheet for a few things to keep in mind when seeing breaking news.
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