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SUNY Geneseo Fraser Hall Library Subject Guides


Decoding Fake News: Fact-checking Toolbox

This Library Guide provides resources to help students to identify "fake" news, bias, and propaganda, as well as good journalism, with a goal of encouraging them to become engaged consumers of information.

Advice from professional fact-checkers

Leave the site to research it. Don’t trust the “about us” page. Don't trust anything the site says about its own purpose or reputation. Research the name of the sponsoring organization to see if there is information that clarifies its purpose and its reputation as a news source.

Ignore the order of search results in Google. Some sites pay Google to be listed high in the search results, and some sites pay Google to place ads in the search results (see box on this page called Google Search Results). Look deep into the search results, not just at the first 10 offerings.

Are the sources cited? Is there documentation? Have claims been backed up by relevant documentation, such as studies, records, statistics and other fact-based evidence?

Watch for "click-bait." If the headline or link makes an outrageous claim, it is probably trying to get you to click on it for profit.

Watch for inflammatory language, as well as more subtle forms of persuasion. If the site makes you angry or emotional in some way, be aware that you may be the victim of manipulation. Read other sources, do some fact-checking. If it is something you really agree strongly with, beware of confirmation bias. Read some sources from the other perspectives.

If the site allows readers to comment, read them. Frequently you find that people are disputing what an author says and giving additional or contradictory evidence.

Read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not reporting on a story you heard about in a less-reputable source. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.

Activity: Rumors to investigate

Are rumors of flammable water coming from faucets because of fracking true?
Did Women's March protestors dump their signs everywhere after the march?