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Fake and Misleading News Guide: What is it and How to Identify it

Tips and resources to help you identify, and avoid, fake and misleading news stories and sites.

What is fake or misleading news?

There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.

CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.

CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information

CATEGORY 3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions

CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news

No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.)  Some articles fall under more than one category.  Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not.   It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good. 

Source: KT Lowe, Coordinator of Library Instruction and Service Learning, Indiana University-East

How can I identify it?

Source: KT Lowe, Coordinator of Library Instruction and Service Learning, Indiana University-East

Anatomy of a Fake News Story


If you are unable to view the article on the New York Times website, find it in our ProQuest National Newspapers database.

Why should I care?

Infographic: Fake News Is A Real Problem | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

How can I avoid it?

Source: KT Lowe, Coordinator of Library Instruction and Service Learning, Indiana University-East

Fact Checking to the Rescue!

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