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Evaluating Information and Avoiding Fake News

What makes a news story fake? (1) You can't verify its claims. A fake news article may or may not have links in it tracing its sources; if it does, these links may not lead to articles outside of the site's domain or may not contain information pertinent to the article topic. (2) Fake news appeals to emotion. Fake news plays on your feelings - It makes you angry or happy or scared. This is to ensure you won't do anything as pesky as fact-checking. (3) Authors usually aren't experts. Most authors aren't even journalists, but paid trolls. (4) It can't be found anywhere else. If you look up the main idea of a fake news article, you might not find any other news outlet (real or not) reporting on the issue. (5) Fake news comes from fake sites. Did your article come from abcnews.com? Or Realnewsrightnow.com? These and a host of other URLs are fake news sites.

How to Fact-Check like a Pro - Sick and tired of seeing misinformation? Never know who or what to trust? Can't figure out if what you've heard is true? Feel duped? Want better tools to sort truth from fiction? Here's a quick guide to sorting out facts, weighing information and being knowledgeable online and off. (1) Check Credentials. Is the author specialized in the field that the article is concerned with? Does s/he currently work in that field? Check Linkedln or do a quick Google search to see if the author can speak about the subject with authority and accuracy. (2) Look for bias. Does the article seem to lean toward a particular point of view? Does it link to sites, files, or images that seem to skew left or right? Biased articles may not be giving you the whole story. (3) Check the Sources. When an article cites sources, it's good to check them out. Sometimes, official-sounding associations are really biased think tanks or represent only a fringe view of a large group of people. If you can't find sources, read as much about the topic as you can to get a feel for what's already out there and decide for yourself if the article is accurate or not. (4) Check the Dates. Like eggs and milk, information can have an expiration date. In many cases, use the most up-to-date information you can find. (5) Judge Hard. If what you're reading seems too good to be true, or too weird, or too reactionary, it probably is. It's never too late to seek out good information!

Did your mother call you to tell you about that new miracle cure for Alzheimer's disease? Did your Facebook feed pop up with an article on a factory farm of pigs intended for human transplant harvesting? Did one of your friends breathlessly tell you that Sargento Cheese will kill you? You might have heard any or all of these stories, but there’s one thread connecting all of them: they’re not true.

 The ability to tell the difference between accurate and fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life. This guide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online.
BulletWho is the intended audience

BulletWhat is the source’s authority? Is it peer-reviewed?arrow
BulletIs it objective or is it biased?
BulletIs it accurate and current?