If it reads too good to be true, or too sensationalist to be fact, it usually is. If you are unsure whether a news source is genuine, refer to the list below. Alternatively, see IFLA’sHow to Spot Fake News infographic.
Five factors to consider when evaluating a source:
- Fact check - use fact checking websites factcheck.org and tinyeye.com (for images) to check the credibility of citations, quotes, etc.
- Verify URL - Look carefully at the URL address - fake sites often pick urls that are extremely similar to other well-known respected news outlets, but with a slight variation. For example, during the most recent U.S. presidential election a fake news site modelled on abcnews.com (real site) was added to the internet, with the URL: abcnews.com.co. President Donald Trump’s campaign manager re-tweeted articles from this fake news site, not realising they were from hoax site.
- Vet the source - Is the source who they say they are - are they vetted/verified? For example, if the information is coming from Twitter, the account holder will be independently verified if their profile includes a blue checkmark.
- Loaded Language - Is the headline of the piece phrased in a way that the language used is sensationalist or highly emotional? This is often a manipulative method referred to as “loaded language” and can be a form of what’s known as “clickbait”, known to entice the reader to click on the news story.
- Adverts - a high proportion of adverts on an article platform/news site can often be a sign of a platform primarily driven by pay-per-clicks, and not by journalistic integrity.
Six tools to help detect misinformation:
- Wayback machine - search for websites that have since been taken off the internet.
- Snopes - hoax checker.
- Quote Investigator - quote checker.
- TinEye - verify images for authenticity; you can search by uploading image files.
- Google Reverse Image Search - verify images for authenticity; you can search by uploading image files.
- Politifact - political facts checker, winner of the Pulizter Prize.