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Fake News, Misleading Information, and Evaluating Sources: Problem

Help! My News is Fake!

Did your mother call you to tell you that liberals hate science?  Did your Facebook feed pop up with an article on a new pesticide that's going to kill us all?  Did one of your friends breathlessly tell you that President Trump was going to pardon mass shooter Dylann Roof?  You might have heard any or all of these stories, but there's one thread connecting all of them: they're not true.

The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use for the rest of your life.  This research guide will give you insights on telling fact from fiction online, plus a chance to exercise your newfound skills. 

What Is the Problem?

Why should you care about whether your news is real or fake?

  1. 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.  You have every right to be insulted when you are presented with fake news, because you are in essence being treated like an idiot.
  2. Fake news destroys your credibility.  If your arguments are built on bad information, it will be much more difficult for people to believe you now and in the future.
  3. 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 like HIV and AIDS aren't related, or that vaccines cause autism.  These sites are heavily visited and their lies are dangerous.
  4. 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 want to read as much good 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 make the world a better place, but real news can.

Top Ten Fake News Stories 2016

Fake news in the news

How do you know?

What Makes Real News Real?

Fake News Is a Real Problem

Credits and Thank Yous

Thank you to our colleagues at Indiana University East for Creative Commons licensing their guide, on which we've based ours.

Please feel free to share this guide with others.  If you are a librarian, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.