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Evaluating News: Evaluating News

This LibGuide provides resources to help you identify fake news and evaluate news and disinformation.

Evaluating News, Fake News, and Disinformation

Fake news has become the new buzz word. But what is it? A better term to use for fake news might be disinformation. According to, disinformation is "misinformation that is deliberately disseminated in order to influence or confuse."

Because fake news and disinformation is all around us, we need to be able to recognize it. But, how to know if something you are reading is true, fake, or biased? With the advent of the Information Age, it is becoming more difficult to decipher fact from fiction in articles and with images. You are now in charge of determining what information is reliable and what is not. You have to be aware while you are reading and viewing. You also have to be aware of your own bias. Test your awareness as you watch this video.

Sometimes when we browse through headlines and social media posts we do not always look critically at the videos, images, and news stories. We may not take into consideration the facts not mention in them or how an image may be altered. We must consider the writer's or creator's message or point of view. We need to be active and not passive consumers of information. That means questioning what we read and who is the source of the information. We also need to be aware of our confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when we search for or interpret information that validates our own preconceptions. We do not actively search for information that challenges our preconceptions.

This survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center in December 2016, found that 64% of Americans adults say made-up news has caused a great deal of confusion about current events.  As a consumer of news information, you need to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether you read it in print, see it on television, hear it on the radio, or find it on the internet.

Types of Misinformation

  • Satire: use of humor, irony, sarcasm, exaggeration to critique or mock a person, policy, or group.
  • False context: a piece of content (quote, video, news story,or image) put in a new false context in order to change its meaning.
  • Imposter content: false of misleading content that use a well-known logo, name, or brand to make it look like it is authentic content.
  • Fabricated content: 100% made up and false.
  • Manipulated content: Make changes to the original content (i.e. image, video, quote, news story) in order to deceive or create a false context.

Read Understanding Information Disorder to learn more.

Problems Caused by Fake News

Fake news:

  • is not information you disagree with
  • undermines real news
  • has consequences
  • hinders an informed citizenry
  • undermines your credibility if you share it
  • denies you the truth



News Media Across the Political Spectrum

Balanced news and media bias ratings courtesy of

What is Fake News

What is fake news?

These are false news stories which are designed to deceive readers. The stories provide information or images that look credible, but their sources cannot be verified. Satirical articles are not fake news because they are meant to be humorous.

What are fake news websites?

These are websites that intentionally use deceptive and sensationalized information to fabricated stories. They want to influence readers or make profits through text linked advertising. That means the more people that click on their stories, the more money they make. Fake news websites often use altered images to misrepresent a story.

Pink Slime news websltes?

These websites began popping up when local news sites started closing down and left news deserts. They masquerade as local news but, in reality, function as political advertising. They are funded by companies with a partisan source of funding and own multiple websites. They do not follow journalist standards and many of their articles are algorithmically computer generated. The new stories are usually skewed to promote the news funders agenda. Learn more about how to recognize Pink Slime news websites.

Terms to Know

Content Farm/Content Mill: a website that writes a lot of disinformation articles on many different topics. They usually use outrageous headlines in order to attract as may people as possible to click on their stories so they make money.

Crowd manipulation: deliberate use of psychological techniques to engage, control, or influence a crowd in order to direct its behavior toward a specific action

Deepfake: when audio and video of a real person is manipulated to look and sound like that person saying something he or she never said

Engagement bait: sensational, and often false, online posts and content intended to get likes and shares on social media platforms so fake social media accounts can build large followings and earn revenue.

Filter bubble: search engines use algorithms to selectively assume the information a person would want to see, by looking at factors like location, "friends", past search history, and click behavior, in order to give the person information according to its assumption.

Information Laundering: when disinformation is planted and spread on social media and then picked up by mainstream news sources as "trusted information".

Keyword Squatting: a tactic used by manipulators who create online content centered around certain keywords in order to control the search results for those keywords and direct traffic to their content.

Native advertising: a paid advertisement that has the same look, feel, and function of an actual news article that you would find online

Post-truth: information provided appeals to a person's emotions and prejudices over facts and logical arguments

Social bot: A type of automated software bot that controls a social media account. It spreads information by convincing other users that the social bot is a real person. This includes generating messages advocating certain ideas and campaigns. A social bot may act as a  follower or even be a fake account that gathers followers itself.

Sockpuppet: an online identity used to promote someone or something for purposes of deception

Social networking spam: spam directed specifically at users of internet social networking services

Twitter bomb: a user creates multiple dummy accounts to send a large number of tweets in a short period of time in order to make his or her message a "trending topic"

Viral Sloganeering: tactic of creating short, catchy often divisive phrases intended to deliver persuasive, disruptive information.

Zombie Rumor: widely debunked misinformation that is seems to be immune to fact-checking because it continues to be shared and found online

Fake News Checklist

Ten Types of Misleading News

Ten Types of Misleading News

Things to Consider When Reading News

When reading the news you must take into consideration your beliefs and feelings.

  • Back fire effect: when a person believes more strongly in their own beliefs when given evidence that is counter to his or her beliefs
  • Confirmation bias: when a person actively seeks out evidence that confirms his or her belief and ignores evidence that goes against it
  • Echo chamber: related to filter bubbles. A "community" that does not allow for different or competing information, opinions, ideas, or beliefs. A person will only encounter views that coincide with their own.
  • Herding phenomenon: following the behavior of others instead of deciding independently on the basis of your own research.
  • Satificing: examine alternative information until a minimal answer with adequate level of acceptance is found, and stop instead of searching for the best-possible answer

If you get your news from a news feed app, think about

  • How much news are you missing
  • Are the articles being set to you balanced
  • Is your online filter bubble affecting what you are receiving

Remember, computer algorithms affect the news that is sent to your news feed apps and notifications.

Learn more about the back fire effect.

Here is a checklist from NAMLE that lists questions to ask when analyze media messages.


Library Media Specialist

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Deana Collins
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