How to outsmart fake news in your Facebook feed

Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it accurate. It seems so simple, but if everyone knew that, Facebook and Google wouldn’t have to pull bogus news sites from their advertising algorithms, and people wouldn’t breathlessly share stories that claim Donald Trump is a secret lizard person or Hillary Clinton is an android in a pantsuit. It doesn’t have to be this way. Fake news is straightforward to spot – if you have know-how. Consider this your New Media Literacy Guide.


First, know the different types of misleading and false news

  • These are the easiest to debunk and often come from known sham sites designed to look like real news outlets. They may include misleading photographs and headlines that, at first read, sound like they could be real.
  • These are the hardest to debunk because they often contain a kernel of truth: A fact, event, or quote was taken out of context. Look for sensational headlines that aren’t supported by the information in the article.
  • Misleading news may be an interpretation of an actual news event where the facts are manipulated to fit an agenda.
  • These stories’ shocking or teasing headlines trick you into clicking for more information — which may or may not live up to what was promised.
  • This is tough because satire doesn’t pretend to be accurate and serves as commentary or entertainment. But if people are unfamiliar with a satire site, they can share the news as legitimate.

Second, hone your fact-checking skills.

  • Alexios Mantzarlis trains fact-checkers for a living. He says it’s essential to have a “healthy amount of skepticism” and to think, really think, before sharing a piece of news.
  • “If we were a little slower to share and re-tweet content purely based on the headline, we’d go a good way towards combating falsehoods,” he told CNN.
  • Melissa Zimdars points out that even those who spend much time online aren’t immune to fake content.
  • “People think this [thinking] applies only to older people,” she told CNN. “I think even early education should be teaching about communication, media, and the internet. Growing up with the internet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re internet savvy.”

For starters, here are ten questions you should ask if something looks fake:

Zimdars says sites with strange suffixes like “.co” or “.su,” or hosted by third-party platforms like WordPress, should raise a red flag. Some fake sites, like National Report, have legitimate-sounding, if not overly known, names that can easily trick people on social sites. For instance, several fake reports from have gone viral before being debunked, including a June article claiming President Obama signed an order banning assault weapon sales.

Mantzarlis says one of the biggest reasons fake news spreads on Facebook is because people get sucked in by a headline and don’t bother to click through. Several dubious organizations circulated a story about Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi this week. “Pepsi STOCK Plummets After CEO Tells Trump Supporters to ‘Take Their Business Elsewhere’,” trumpeted one such headline. However, the articles themselves didn’t contain that quote nor evidence that Pepsi’s stock saw a significant drop (it didn’t). Nooyi did make recorded comments about Trump’s election but was never quoted telling his supporters to “take their business elsewhere.”

Gemma Broadhurst
I am a writer by profession, and I love to write in my spare time. I am one of the most experienced writer for newspriest. I always make sure that whatever is written on my blog is 100% genuine and true. I am a University of Florida graduate pursuing a Master's degree.

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