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'Fake News'

What Is Fake News?

Typewriter typing 'fake news'

Fake news is not news you disagree with.

There are many definitions of fake news, but the topic is a rapidly developing one and not easy to summarise. Here is one attempt: 

"Fake news" is "fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent. Fake-news outlets, in turn, lack the news media's editorial norms and processes for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of information. Fake news overlaps with other information disorders, such as misinformation (false or misleading information) and disinformation (false information that is purposely spread to deceive people)."

Lazer, David M. J. et al., "The Science of Fake News," Science 09 Mar 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6380, pp. 1094-1096.


Clickbait is probably the most easily recognisable fake news. Readers are lured into reading the story by sensational and misleading headlines and/or pictures only to discover the story doesn’t live up to the promise and be bombarded by adverts.

Labelling accurate sources and reports as "fake" has become an easy way to dismiss  actual news. It has become a lazy,  way of saying "I don't like this", "I don't believe it", or "I disagree with that" . This is in turn makes it harder for people  to distinguish the facts from fiction and distinguish genuine news from satire and parody.  Although satire and parody are sometimes called fake news they do not deliberately set out to confuse or mislead the reader or viewer, instead they mock current events and news media for fun.

Read  more at  Fake news glossary: Top 10 words to know , BBC, 4 Aug 2020 (Links to a different site)

Image 'Fake news' by Markus Winkler

History of Fake News

Fake news is not new. Fake news has been circulating for at least as long as news and gossip has been circulating. Read the following articles for historical examples of fake news and disinformation.

Ask yourself is it easier for more fake new and disinformation to spread as more and  more information and comment is available online. What can you do to protect yourself and others?

Top Tips to Spot 'Fake News'

How to spot fake news: Consider the source. Check away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info. Check the author. Do a quick search on the author.Are they credible?Are they real?Check the details. Reporting old news stories doesn't mean they're relevant to current events. Check your bias. Consider if your own beliefs can affect your judgement. Read beyond. Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What's the whole story? Supporting sources.  Click on the those links. determine if the information given actually support to the story. Is it a joke? If it is too outlandish it might be satire. Research the site and the author to be sure. Ask the experts. Ask a librarian or use a fact-checking site.

Spotting Fake News

Social media

3 ways to spot fake Twitter accounts

Watch out for those Twitter Bots!

BBC: How Facebook is starting to tackle fake news in your news feed

Facebook has revealed how it will start tackling fake news stories and how users' newsfeeds will change after a new update.


TEDxDartmouth 2011- Hany Farid: What's a Picture Worth?

Hany Farid, Professor of Computational Science at Dartmouth College, shows us that pictures are not always to be trusted and the human eye is the least equipped to tell the truth.

Videos How to verify YouTube videos

Amnesty International launches a new site to help journalists verify YouTube videos.

TED Talk: Fake videos of real people - and how to spot them.

Computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn shows how he used AI and 3D modeling to create photorealistic fake videos of people synced to audio, and discusses both the creative and more negative ethical implications of the technology.

Checking the Facts

All Sides
Provides multiple angles on the same story.

Fact Check (Links to an external site.) 
Channel 4 news blog

FactCheck.Org (Links to an external site.) 
A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania established to monitor the factual accuracy of claims made by US politicians across a variety of media

Full Fact 
A registered charity that concentrates on fact checking claims made in the public domain using the Ipsos MORI Issues Index (Links to an external site.)


A browser plugin that lets you know if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.

Fact-check site.

Fact-checking site.



Further information

Fake News (Newcastle University LibGuide) 

Fake news  (Cornell University LibGuide)

BBC Radio 4: Moral Maze: The Morality of Fake News
Has the internet made possible a more democratic and open journalism that reports that challenges traditional mouthpieces, or has it led to a dismantling of fair and objective reporting and proliferation of rumour and untruths? 

Gelfert, Axel. Fake News: A Definition Article in Informal Logic 38(1):84-117 · March 2018

What is fake news? (University of Colorado Boulder LibGuide )

 'How to spot fake news'  Article from FactCheck.Org

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