Skip to main content

SHB PHILOS 110: Fake News

David Louzecky

What is Fake News?

  • Fake information - incorrect information presented as if it were real
  • Manipulated content
  • Authentic material used in the wrong context 
  • Fake news sites
  • Imposter news sites designed to look like brands we already know
  • Parody content - satire: The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues (
  • True information, but shared with the label "Fake News" - person sharing knows the information is accurate

Adapted from Loyola Marymount University LibGuide

Evaluate sources with the CRAAP test

CRAAP is a set of easy-to-use (and remember!) criteria for evaluating your sources, including websites. Take a look at the worksheet and video below to learn how to apply these criteria.

C: Currency

R: Relevance

A: Authority

A: Accuracy

P: Purpose

Factitious - Fake News Game

Factitious - a free online game that "tests your news sense" (use Firefox or Chrome browser). Developed at American University.


  • Clickbait: something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest. (Merriam-Webster)
  • Confirmation bias: the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one's existing beliefs.  This biased approach to decision making is largely unintentional and often results in ignoring inconsistent information.  (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
  • Filter bubble: a situation in which an Internet user encounters only information and opinions that conform to and reinforce their own beliefs, caused by algorithms that personalize an individual’s online experience.  (

Fact Checkers & Media Bias

  • fact-checks claims made by presidents, members of Congress, presidential candidates, and other members of the political arena by reviewing TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.
  • PolitiFact fact-checks claims by politicians at the federal, state, and local level, as well as political parties, PACs, and advocacy groups and rates the accuracy of these claims on its Truth-O-Meter.
  • Snopes was originally founded to uncover rumors that had begun cropping up in chain emails and message boards and is now highly regarded for its fact-checking.
  • Media Bias/Fact Check evaluates the level of bias present in individual news sources and provides a rating for factual reporting.
  • See issues and political news with news bias revealed. Non-partisan, crowd-sourced technology shows all sides so you can decide.  Includes ratings of bias for news sources.

How to Spot Fake News

Ted Ed: How to Choose Your News

How to Spot Fake News -

IMVAIN Evaluation

IMVA/IN: an acronym to evaluate sources who show up in news stories

  • Independent sources are preferable to self-interested sources.       (PURPOSE)

  • Multiple sources are preferable to a report based on a single source.     (ACCURACY)

  • Sources who Verify or provide verifiable information are preferable to those who merely assert.   (ACCURACY)

  • Authoritative and/or Informed sources are preferable to sources who are uninformed or lack authoritative background.   (AUTHORITY)

  • Named sources are better than anonymous ones.    (AUTHORITY)

Adapted from Loyola Marymount University LibGuide and Stony Brook University School of Journalism

More evaluation strategies

  • Common sense test - does it seem "off," bizarre or unbelievable
  • Read the whole thing
  • Recognize that satire exists
  • Check the site's "about" page or description
  • Verify the sources cited - do they even exist?  - information used correctly?  - does a link go somewhere else entirely?
  • Search for information about the author, verify any author information provided
  • Check the date - is this recycled news now presented out of context?
  • Find and use trusted sources to consistently rely upon
  • Expand your information network to include diverse perspectives
  • Don't trust any site implicitly. Critically analyze every source.
  • Watch for patterns of trustworthiness over time
  • Temper amount of research you invest based on the importance of the information you're using

Interesting MIT Study

On Twitter, false news travels faster than true stories

"false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people."

How do you know?

Tips for Smarter Reading

1. DON’T BE SUCKERED BY HEADLINES. If it sounds too good (or too bad!) to be true, it probably is. Read the whole thing!
2. EVALUATE THE SOURCE, AND THEIR SOURCES. Who’s writing, and who are they quoting? Can you find the original?
3. CHECK THE FACTS, and don’t believe what you read until you’ve confirmed it, preferably with more than one good source to corroborate what you read.
4. LEAVE YOUR THEORIES AT THE DOOR. Your biases can lead you to disregard real news and gravitate toward things that confirm your perspectives. Be open to challenging truths!

With thanks from SUNY-Potsdam College Libraries

Library News Sources