Ugly Library Tools
Fake News


Pizzagate (photo source: Washington Post/Getty)
HoT vs UMA (photo source: Air Texas)
Gorilla Channel

What are fake news?

Fake news are hoaxes, propaganda, or misinformation, deliberately published to further a political or philosophical agenda and/or to make money. Fake news websites use social media and inflamatory or suggestive headlines to attact viewers to their websites and renerate revenue.

Why are fake news published?

Fake News for Money: Clickbait

Fake News for Fame: Fake News Stories/Agencies

Examples of fake news websites who spin, distort or invent stories to influence people and promote a philosophy, idea, or belief.

Fake News for Lols: Parody, Satire, Comedy

Below are websites who use news stories for parody, comedy and/or social commentary.

How to detect and avoid fake news

Here's what you can do to recognize and avoid fake news:

Research outrageous headlines further

Is the headline so outrageous you can't believe it? Think appeal to emotion fallacy and check other sources to corroborate the news clip.

is the headline so outrageous you believe it? Think confirmation bias fallacy and look for other sources to corroborate the story.

Does the headline match the article?

When it comes to fake news, it is not uncommon to find news articles where the body of the story does not match the compelling headline. They already got your eyeballs on their site and that's what matters to them. The content of the story becomes secondary at best.

Look for context

If you find news headlines or articles where a quote from a public figure is provided without context or background, this should raise red flags. Often times, quotes can be spun to fit a message by taking context or background away.

Story set in the future?

Be very cautions of news articles that tell you what WILL happen, as opposed to what happened. Journalists (even fake ones) don't have a crystal ball, and any news taking place in "the future" should be looked at skeptically at the very least.

Check their sources

Check the links within the article. If there are no links available, or if the links take you to Wikipedia articles or to the wrong source, it is likely fake.

Mispellings, grammar errors and messy content layout

Professional journalists take pride on their command of the English language. Correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax are, needless to say, necessary skills in journalism. Look at any article with grammar or syntax errors skeptically. Grammar or syntax errors often indicate a lack of an editorial board and, therefore, not an established news organization.

Stories that ask for you to "trust" them

Journalists build trust on their readers through their product. They will never ask you for it.

Read mainstream news from a variety of sources

Even the best of us can, from time to time, fall into the echo chamber or confirmation bias trap. Be a smart news consumer by reading news articles from many sources. This will allow you to form a more objective opinion.

Pay attention to what you "like" on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite social media platform

You may not be aware of it, but what you "like", "tag", "retweet", or "pin" can influence the type of news articles you get in your feed.

References and further reading

"A Finder's Guide to facts" article by NPR's Steve Inskeep:

"A Finder's Guide To Facts." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.

"Here Are All the 'fake News' Sites to Watch out for on Facebook" by Andrew Couts in The Daily Dot "Here Are All the 'fake News' Sites to Watch out for on Facebook." The Daily Dot. N.p., 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.