Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?

  • You deserve the truth.  You are smart enough to make up your own mind, as long as you have the real facts in front of you.
  • Fake news can hurt you, and a lot of other people.  Purveyors of fake and misleading medical advice like Mercola.com and NaturalNews.com help perpetuate myths. These sites are heavily visited and their lies are dangerous.
  • Real news can benefit you.  If you want to buy stock in a company, you want to read accurate articles about that company so you can invest wisely.  If you are planning on voting in an election, you need accurate information on a candidate so you can vote for the person who best represents your ideas and beliefs.  Fake news will not help you make money or understand the world you live in.


What makes a news story fake?

  • It can’t be verified. A fake news article may or may not have links in it tracing its sources; if it does, these links may lead to articles outside of the site’s domain or may not contain information pertinent to the article topic.
  • Fake news appeals to emotions. Fake news plays on your feelings –it makes you angry, happy, or scared.  This is to ensure you won’t do anything as pesky as fact-checking.
  • Authors usually aren’t experts. Most authors aren’t even journalists.
  • Fake news comes from fake sites. Did your article come from abcnews.com.co?  Or mercola.com? Realnewsrightnow.com? These and a host of other URLs are fake news sites.


Avoid Fake News

  • Check the source – is it a .com? .org? .edu or .gov?  Different  domains represent different interests.
  • Use the CRAAP Test – Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority and Purpose
  • Check the claims in the article.  Can you follow up using reputable sources?
  • Question everything.  Does the site have ads?  Is the source from a think tank or nonprofit that has a stake in the subject of the article?  What’s the author’s background?
  • Check any links in the article.  Do they actually lead to information that verifies something in the article?


Fact Check Links

FactCheck:  http://www.factcheck.org

Politifact:  http://www.politifact.com

Snopes:  http://www.snopes.com

HoaxSlayer: http://www.hoax-slayer.com

Washington Post Fact Checker:



Additional Resources

  • The Poynter Institute


  • The News Literacy Project


  • Framework for Info Literacy for Higher Education


  • The Society of Professional Journalists




This PDF is modified from a LibGuide developed by KT Lowe, Coordinator of Library Instruction and Service Learning at Indiana University East.  Both this PDF and its source LibGuide are covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial 4.0 license.  Reuse, repurpose, retrofit, but give credit where credit is due and don’t sell the information.

Source LibGuide:



Contact KT at lowekat@iu.edu