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Have you been fooled by a fake news site recently? Can you tell which one of these webpages is from a fake news site, and which one is from a real news site?
American Politic News
The Hill is the real news site. American Politic News is the fake news site! Politifact describes it as "a largely sensational website that post stories with shocking headlines that don't always add up."
The traditional name for fake news is propaganda. Dictionary.com defines propaganda as "information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc." and "the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.," and "the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement."
Satire: Fake New's Funny Cousin
Satire news sites are also something that one has to watch out for. Satire is "a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc," according to Merriam-Webster.
This is an example of satire from The Onion, one of the most well-known satire sites.
Satire is not meant to mislead like fake news is, but it can sometimes be confusing!
Real or Satire is a website where a URL can be put into a search engine that will tell you if the website you are looking at is satire or not, from the database of satire websites they've compiled.
Detecting Fake News
A Google Doc of "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical 'News' Sources" was compiled by Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. However, the LA Times reported that Zimdars took the list down as a "safety measure in response to threats and harassment," but plans on eventually releasing the list in another format.
However, some websites took issue with Zimdars's original list before it was taken down, because she included aggregate sites. Kira Davis, a reporter for RedState, (one of the listed aggregators), said that "RedState writers go to great lengths to debunk false stories they find in the media," and it is in no way a fake or misleading news site.
Davis isn't the only one with a problem with the list. She cites Mediate's Alex Griswold's tweet, illustrating the dilemma and confusion about what should be considered real or fake.
Beyond the controversial attempt at a list of sites, there is still a document Zimdar created with some solid tips on how to analyze news sources.
Some of Zimdars tips include:
- Watching if reputable news sources are reporting on the same story.
- Check the "About Us" tab on their website, or use Snopes or Wikipedia to find background information on the source.
- "Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news."
- Bad web design or all caps writing means you should verify what you're reading.
- If the story makes you really angry, Zimdar says, "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."
Media Platforms Fight Back Against Fake News
Politico reported that both Google and Facebook are going to ban fake news sites from using their advertising platforms.
This news comes after Google and Facebook were criticized for distributing fake news during the 2016 election that critics say impacted the outcome.
In 2016, Oxford Dictionary named the word of the year: "post-truth."
Do you know what is real and what is fake news? Comment here and share your thoughts on our Facebook page, thanks!