Evaluating News: "Fake News" and Beyond : Home

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


Fake News

"Fake news" is defined, in the modern sense, as deliberately publishing hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation while purporting to be "real" news. In modern times, this often involves using social media to drive web traffic and expand the impact of the fake news. Fake news websites and articles seek to intentionally mislead readers for financial, political, or other gain. 

The term "fake news," also referred to as "hoax news," has exploded in the last year or two, but it's not actually a new concept in the United States or in our history of newspapers and media.

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.


What is Fake News?

One of the most interesting videos (4:55 mins) on the subject, it illustrates ways to spot a fake news story, with examples. Though it only provides a couple of examples of credible sources that may lean politically to one side, consider other sources that would round out the list. 

Source: CyberWise. "What is Fake News?" Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 10 August 2019. 2 June 2021.