“Fake News” has been in the real news a lot over the past few months. It is an important reminder to all of us that we live in a world where anyone can write, edit, and misquote information or manipulate pictures. On the internet (and especially social media,) a made-up or misleading story can spread across the world in minutes.
Good readers, good researchers, and good citizens all need to know how to check the sources of their information and to recognize the difference between facts and rumors, opinions, lies, or jokes. There are a lot of people out there who want to trick you, and some of them are very, very good at it.
Some Questions to Ask Yourself About a News Story:
(from Project Look Sharp & Common Sense Media)
Who made this?
Who is the target audience?
Who paid for this? Or, who gets paid if you click on this?
Who might benefit or be harmed by this message?
What is left out of this message that might be important?
Is this credible (and what makes you think that)?
A Couple of Tips:
Read the whole article (not just the headline!) and check to see who wrote it before believing it or sharing it.
Website names that end in “lo” or “.com.co” are often fake.
Know your comedy sites! Sources like “The Onion” or “NationalReport.net” are satire. They run fake news stories to make people laugh or to try and make people stop and think.
Many articles aren’t outright lies, but only tell one version of the truth. Compare multiple sources to get the whole story!
Some Tools That Can Help You Check The Facts:
Chrome Extensions That Identify Bias and Fake News
The News Literacy Project Checklist
Additional Tools for Teachers:
Common Sense Education
PBS NewsHour Lesson Plans