How to Combat Fake News
Studies show that students have ‘dismaying’ inability to tell fake news from real news. Fake news stories can have real-life consequences, so it behooves us as educators to teach students how to fact-check the news and get the facts. We’re offering a workshop in the CTLE this spring on Fake News. The workshop will be a lesson in fake news that can also be used with students.
For the workshop, I’ve compiled a list of resources to help you and your students understand the fake news epidemic better, and the workshop will cover:
- What is fake news?
- How is fake news and “alternative facts” a problem for society?
- Where does fake news come from?
- How to check news and use fact check sites.
- How to avoid fakes news on social media.
- Best practices for questionable sources.
One source in particular that I found useful was False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources by Melissa Zimdars which offers a huge list of fake news sites and the following tips.
Tips for analyzing news sources:
- Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo (Newslo is now found at Politicops.com). These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
- Watch out for common news websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources (remember: this is also the domain for Colombia!)
- Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
- Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
- Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
- Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
- Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
- Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
- If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue. Thanks to Ed Brayton for this tip!
- If the website you’re reading encourages you to DOX individuals, it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.
- It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Sources such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
- For more tips on analyzing the credibility and reliability of sources, please check out School Library Journal (they also provide an extensive list of media literacy resources) and the Digital Resource Center.
If you want more resources and information about fake news, sign up for one the two sessions below: