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? You might have heard of these stories, but there's one thread connecting all of them: they're not true. Collins English Dictionary defines fake news as "false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting." The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life. This LibGuide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online, define fake news, offers strategies for assessing news quality, and suggests reputable fact-checking sources.
1894 "Fake News" cartoon by Frederick Burr Opper
The five types of fake news
Stories classified as fake news can generally be put into five categories, as experts try to develop a way of warning readers what they may be encountering.
1. Intentionally deceptive
These are news stories created entirely to deceive readers. The 2016 US election was rife with examples claiming that “x celebrity has endorsed Donald Trump”, when that was not the case.
2. Jokes taken at face value
Humour sites such as the Onion or Daily Mash present fake news stories in order to satirise the media. Issues can arise when readers see the story out of context and share it with others.
3. Large-scale hoaxes
Deceptions that are then reported in good faith by reputable news sources. A recent example would be the story that the founder of Corona beer made everyone in his home village a millionaire in his will.
4. Slanted reporting of real facts
Selectively-chosen but truthful elements of a story put together to serve an agenda. One of the most prevalent examples of this is the PR-driven science or nutrition story, such as 'x thing you thought was unhealthy is actually good for you'.
5. Stories where the ‘truth’ is contentious
On issues where ideologies or opinions clash - for example, territorial conflicts - there is sometimes no established baseline for truth. Reporters may be unconsciously partisan, or perceived as such.
Carson, J. (2017, -02-08). What is fake news? its origins and how it grew in 2016. The Telegraph Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/fake-news-origins-grew-2016/