How To Spot Fake News (16 Tips)

With fake news spreading like wildfire during the 2016 election, biased news outlets and uncritical reporters and talk show hosts, the modern news consumer is forced be able to spot fake news. It’s now fundamental for us, especially in the digital age, to be critical readers of news. Below are 16 tips/tricks I use to be able to spot fake news and bias: 

  1. Have you heard of the website before? Is it a known website? Are you familiar with it? Is it legitimate? Has it been reliable in the past? What has the site posted in the past?
  2. Is it a proper URL? Fake sites often end with “.co”.
  3. When was the latest article? Was it recent or a while ago?
  4. Is the title ALL CAPS?
  5. Does the story actually support the headline>
  6. Is there a lot of pop-ups and banner ads?
  7. Is there an “About” page? Is it clear with contact information?
  8. Does the story have a date?
  9. Are there sources, quotes, references and evidence in the story? Are they checkable? Such as official documents or specific citations. Remember Carl Sagan’s quote, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” So, always ask, “Says who?”In other words, don’t take information from strangers.
  10. Are there links? Do they all work? Click the links. If they lead to the legit raw information, that’s good.
  11. Is the story being reported by other reputable media outlets?
  12. Are there significant misspellings?
  13. Is the photo accompanying the story credited to someone? If an image doesn’t have the name of the photographer or the agency that released it, use a reverse image search engine like TinEye or Google Reverse Image Search to see where the original image was posted. And, if the original was photoshopped. Startling images often are not fake, but rather have appeared before in a different context.
  14. Who is responsible for the story? Is the writer clearly identifiable with contact information? Is it a known journalist?
  15. Google the sites name and the word “fake” and see what comes up.
  16. Check whether fact-checking websites such as Snopes.com or FactCheck.org have investigated the information, or just type the claim into a Google search and add the word “hoax.”

To your success,

Nikhil Mahadea