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Evaluating News: "Fake News" and Beyond

Thanks to Erica Carlson Nicol at Washington State University for permission to use her work

Fake News

Image of a National Enquirer cover from May 19, 1998Fake news is not new, but the 2016 elections has brought it to our attention. The term "fake news," has become a catch-all for many different kinds of news that promote false information, intentionally mislead readers, manipulate our emotions, and provide affirmation to our existing viewpoints and biases.

It's also becoming more and more common for many people to label news that disagrees with their own viewpoints as fake, without further investigating or verifying the information being presented. So, sometimes you might hear that a news article is fake or that a news source is fake, even when it's pretty reliable. When in doubt, it''s always good to check for yourself.

 

 

Here are some different types of fake news:

  • Fake News or Hoax News : Stories that promote false information. While they may be loosely influenced by facts, these stories can't be verified. These stories often rely on language designed to get an emotional response (like outrage) from readers.
  • Clickbait - Outrageous headlines and stories designed to get readers to click open links to a particular webpage. These often try to manipulate emotions or elicit surprise. You've seen a lot of this already - it often involves politics or celebrities in addition to kittens and babies.
  • Hyper-partisan or Heavily Biased News - Stories that present facts, often carefully selected, through a biased perspective. There are different levels of bias, but credible reporters and news sites attempt to present facts with objectivity. 
  • News Parody/Satire - Stories that parody current events and reporting. While they often use false headlines, they are created to poke fun at current events or people, not to convince readers that the information is true.