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News Sources: "Fake News"

This research guide provides a brief introduction to news sources.

What is "fake news"?

"Fake news" is a term that has rapidly gained traction in America's vocabulary.  In an age when we are bombarded with more information than ever before, it is important to be able to critically evaluate the information we are consuming.

So what do we mean by "fake news"? Simply put, fake news is false information that is deliberately fabricated to deceive readers.  Fake news can include clickbait, or articles that are designed to get more clicks by having misleading or outrageous headlines, satirical sites such as The Onion, or larger hoaxes that are often spread through social media.

Fake news is not simply news that we disagree with.  It's important to recognize that we all bring our own personal perspectives and biases to the information we interact with.  Some types of bias are identified in the "Terms to Know" section below.  These biases affect the types of articles we find, read, and share.  Read through some of the tips below on how to spot fake news and become a savvy and responsible media consumer.

Terms to Know

Fake News: False information deliberately fabricated to deceive readers

Post-truth: Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief

Clickbait: Articles that feature headlines designed to get people to click on them, often by presenting a misleading or warped sense of what the post is about

Bias: A predisposition that distorts your ability to fairly weigh the evidence and prevents you from reaching a fair or accurate judgment

Confirmation Bias: Pursuing information that reassures or reflects a particular point of view

Filter Bubble: When search tools present the stories we are likely to click on or share based upon our past activity, potentially affirming our biases

Test your Skills

Do you think you've learned how to successfully evaluate whether a news article is real or fake? Test your skills with this Fake News game!

Ask Questions about a Source


  • Who is the publisher or sponsoring organization?
  • What are the author's credentials?


  • Is the information up-to-date?
  • Is the information in agreement with other sources?


  • Is there any evident bias by the author or sponsor?
  • In what way is the information provided balanced?


  • How many sources support the information? Are they easily found?
  • Is there a bibliography or a list of sources?


Adapted from:

Tips for Spotting Fake News