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Fake News: Defining Fake News

How to determine what is fake and what is real online.

What is Fake News?

According to the fact-checking website, Politifact:

"Fake news is made-up stuff, masterfully manipulated to look like credible journalistic reports that are easily spread online to large audiences willing to believe the fictions and spread the word."

What is NOT Fake News?

Fake News does NOT include:

  • Mistakes -- Reporters make mistakes; legitimate reporters correct their mistakes. See MLK bust tweets by Time Magazine reporter.
  • Opinion articles -- A point of view, even a bias, doesn't make it fake. Good opinion pieces will reference solid factual information though.
  • Facts we don't like! See Hurricane Maria death toll controversy.

Types of Fake News

  • Fake or Hoax News -- Intentionally fabricated news stories
  • Misleading News -- News stories that report quotes, images, statistics out of context, some of these stories can be old stories that are re-reported with a new misleading headline
  • Mimic Websites -- Fake news websites that mimic the look of trusted news sources in order to fool readers into thinking a story is real. Example: Denver Guardian
  • Satire -- Fake and ironic news stories that are intended to be funny or entertaining. Examples: The Onion, The Borowitz Report
  • Clickbait -- News that is promoted with dramatic or misleading headlines that do not reflect the content of the actual story

Fake News is a Real Problem

From Aug - Nov 2016 (election day), fake news stories on Facebook were more widely shared and read than true mainstream stories. This chart shows the top five election stories that were disseminated on Facebook.

top five fake 2016 election stories
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