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Evaluating News: How to Spot Fake News

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

Evaluating Information

No matter where you get your news from (print, digital, news websites, social media) you must evaluate it. You need to read carefully and think critically. You need to evaluate where the information is coming from and be critical of all content.

Can you tell which one is real and which one is fake?

Deepfake Videos

Deepfake videos are altered videos in which audio and video of a real person is manipulated to look and sound like that person is saying something he or she never said. Deepfake videos, like the one above, are becoming easier to make and harder to tell the difference between them. So how can we trust what we watch on the internet? Many experts worry that deepfakes could become weaponized and have irreversible consequences. This article, Deepfake Videos Are Getting Real and That's a Problem from the Wall Street Journal, discusses how easily deepfake videos can be made, the consequences of them, and how we can identify them. A video is included. This deepfake example is of a speech that President Richard Nixon never gave. This video from 60 Minutes discusses how far deep fake videos have com.

Here are a few tips:

  • Pay attention to glitches or distortions.
    • Does it "look normal"? Look at the facial details like the hairline, lack of detail in the teeth, lack of blinking, skin texture, how the face moves, range of expression.
  • Pay attention to the surrounds in the video.
    • Look at the light and objects in the video. Do they match up with the time and place the video was suppose to have been taken? For example, if the video was taken outside, look to see what the weather was that day in that place.

Photographs

We constantly see photos and memes on social media. How do you know the photo is real? Photographs are becoming easier to manipulate. Now photorealistic face generation software is so good it is extremely hard to tell that photos are fake. Try to see if you can spot the real face in the pictures at Which Face is Real? This website also shows you how to spot fake faces in photographs.

Think Critically

  • Start at the headline
  • Look at the text elements (author, publisher, website)
  • Read the whole story
  • As you read an article, pay attention to how it makes you feel. Does the author want you to feel that way on purpose?
  • Verify the author's sources (statistics, quotes, etc.)
  • Search for information that is missing from the story
  • Triangulate the information found in the article
  • Consider the author's bias and your own bias
  • Is what you are reading news or news talk?
  • Read laterally: use multiple tabs in your browser to look stuff up and fact check as you read. Watch this Crash Course video to learn more.

Deepfakes and Democracy

Manipulated Videos

Spotting Fake News

How to Fact Check a Video or Image

Test Yourself

Astroturfing and the Media

What is Astroturfing?

It is when an organization, cause, or promotion pretends to be a grassroots cause, but, in reality, it is sponsored and organized by a corporation, political group, advertising company, citizen, or lobbyist. The purpose of astroturfing is to try to convince the public that there is widespread grassroots support for or against a policy, issue, agenda, individual, or product. The aim of astroturfing is to generate publicity and sway public opinion. Many times organizations name will contradict their goals.Their names may begin with "concerned...","citizens for...", "coalition for...","committee for...." and "project." They claim to be independent groups, but they are usually created to promote corporations, lobbying, political donations, promotion, and advertising. 

Things to Consider

  • Is the author using inflammatory language? Astroturfers often claim to "debunk myths".
  • Is the author attacking the issue by attacking people or organizations involved in the issue instead of addressing the facts?
  • Is the author questioning authority (the wrongdoer), or is he or she questioning the person who is questioning authority (the wrongdoer)?

How to Spot Fake News

Tutorials and Games

Ways to Identify Fake News

Resources