Fact or Fiction: Determining News Accuracy

Why Should I Care about Fake News?

Fake news, information meant to deceive, and fabricated stories are all around us.  Fake news looks and sounds real but it is actually intended to mislead and spread misinformation.  In our information age, such news can be retweeted and reposted in an instant. How do we determine what is true, what isn't, and what is true depending on your point of view? Anyone can edit a Wikipedia page regardless of their credentials, and something like the Tree Octopus (more on that later) looks completely legitimate.  


Your librarians are here to help you figure it out with this handy guide below. And when in doubt, ask us!  That's what we're here for! 




Things to look for:

  • Who gives the site money? Is it for-profit or non-profit?
  • When was the site last updated? Check the bottom of the page.
  • Does the site look professional?

Some extra tips from WikiHow

Examples of "unreliable" authors:

Andy Borowitz

Misleading MLK Site

Tree Octopus

Check the date of the article, but also check if the image being used is current.  Recycling old photos for current stories can be misleading as well.  Check image accuracy with reverse image search here.

We all have biases.  Use the Harvard Project Implicit to find out what your biases are with these anonymous tests.




40 Fake News Articles

Practice your ability to determine what an article is about based on its headline

Where do links take you? Other legitimate sites?  "Dead" sites? Other fake sites that look legitmate, like the Tree Octopus?

*Hover over a link before clicking to see if it might be malicious.

Guide to Analyzing News Sources

Some Fake & Satirical Sites:

The Onion


Tree Octopus

The Experts: Ask us at PVLD!

Fact-Checking Sites:

Snopes: Check urban legends, memes, and more.

Politifact: Check facts on U.S. politics

FactCheck.org: Check facts on U.S. Politics from the Annenburg Public Policy Center



Authoratitive: Able to be trusted, reliable

Bias: Prejudice against a person, place, group, or thing.  Biases are often times subconcious and learned from an early age.

Expert: A person who is an authority on a particular topic or thing.

Fact: Something that is indisputable and true

Information Literacy: A set of skills which help people understand how to do research, find and evaluate facts, and use them.

*Definitions created using dictionaries and other library guides.

Other helpful links:

NPR article on checking fake news 

American Library Association: Guides, Resources, and News