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What is Fake News?

Fake news is not news you disagree with. 

"Fake News" is "fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent. Fake news outlets, in turn, lack the news media's editorial norms and processes for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of information. Fake news overlaps with other information disorders, such as misinformation (false or misleading information) and disinformation (false information that is purposely spread to deceive people)." - David M. J. Lazer, et al., "The Science of Fake News," Science 09 Mar 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6380, pp. 1094-1096. via What is Fake News?

Fake News is:

  • Authentic material used in the wrong context
  • Imposter news sites designed to look like brands we already know
  • Fake news sites
  • Fake information
  • Manipulated content
  • Parody content

- Keepin' It Real: Tips & Strategies for Evaluating Fake News

The Spread of Fake News

Creators of fake news and fake news sites check verified news sources. They use facts from these verified news outlets and layer it with misinformation to confuse the reader. When confronted by both the fake news and verified news, people tend to discount both the misinformation and the facts. That's the power of fake news. - Keepin' It Real: Tips and Strategies for Evaluating Fake News


Fighting Fake News

Here are some things you can do to spot fake news:

  • Consider the Source: Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission, and its contact information.
  • Check the Author: Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
  • Check the Date: Reposting old news stories doesn't mean they're relevant to current events.
  • Check your Biases: Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgement.
  • Read Beyond: Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What's the whole story?
  • Supporting Sources: Click on those links. Determine if the information given actually supports the story. 
  • Is it a Joke?: If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure. 
  • Ask the Experts: Ask a librarian or consult a fact-checking site.

Tools for Verifying News and Information


Thank you to William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University and Olin and Uris Libraries at Cornell University Library for allowing the use of your LibGuides in the creation of this guide. 

“Keepin' It Real: Tips & Strategies for Evaluating Fake News: Fake News.” William H. Hannon Library LibGuides,

“Fake News, Propaganda, and Misinformation: Learning to Critically Evaluate Media Sources: What Is Fake News?” Cornell University Research Guides,

Research & Learning Services
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Cornell University Library
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