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Fake News, Misleading Information, and Evaluating Sources: Categories

What Types of Fake News Exist?

There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.

CATEGORY 1: Sites that rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.

CATEGORY 2: Sites that circulate misleading or potentially and/or unreliable information, or present opinion pieces as news.

CATEGORY 3: Websites that sometimes use exaggerated headlines and social media descriptions as click-bait.

CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news.

Items may fall under several categories - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but still use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3), or may be a parody on modern medical practice (Category 4). Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not.  It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.

Fact-checking links

How Statistics Can Be Misleading (4:19)