Broadly speaking, fake news is misinformation that is disseminated for political purposes, economic gain, or entertainment. Fake news falls into a few different categories:
1) Deliberately deceptive stories (or images) intended to create confusion or division, posted on websites, blogs, or social media.
2) Click bait and native advertising - stories that present themselves as "news" but are written for the purpose of driving traffic to a website or promoting a product.
3) Satire or parody.
Recently there has been a surge in accusations of "Fake News" regarding factually accurate news stories. This seems to arise for a number of reasons. First, when the news is critical of the accuser. Second, when the accuser does not support coverage of the story being reported. Third, when the accuser doesn't agree with a particular perspective.
However, just because a news story presents negative information, this does not make the story "fake news." Additionally, just because bias exists in the selection of which stories are covered in a particular news source or in the reporting, this does not categorically make those news stories "fake news." Bias is distinct from misinformation, disinformation, fabrication, etc., though one could argue there is a slippery slope in this regard.
For this reason, professional journalism standards strive to present unbiased and balanced reporting of events. By relying on media sources that adhere to professional journalism standards you are more likely to avoid bias in the reporting. Ideally, opinion oriented stories are relegated to the editorial pages of the news source and clearly labeled as opinion pieces.
For more information on journalism standards see the section of this guide called Journalism Ethics and Standards.
For where to go to find "real news" see the section of this guide called Find Real News.
For a deeper discussion of bias in the news, please see "Five Types of Bias" from the News Literacy Project.
Fight fake news by recognizing it, steering clear of it, and never forwarding it. Friends don’t let friends forward fake news!
These tips were compiled from Melissa Zimdars' list of tips, and Joyce Valenza's blog post Truth, Truthiness, Triangulation: A News Literacy Toolkit for a "Post-Truth" World.
Learn more about detecting fake news at the News Literacy Project. NLP is a nonpartisan national education nonprofit organization which provides programs and resources for educators and the public to teach, learn and share the abilities needed to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy.
Excerpted from a blog post by Joyce Valenza, Truth, Truthiness, Triangulation: A News Literacy Toolkit for a "Post-Truth" World.
Meet the Professor Calling Out the Fake and Misleading News Sites Clogging Your Facebook Feed, Jared Keller, Pacific Standard, November 15, 2016.
Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds, Camila Domonoske, NPR, November 23, 2016.
Why Students Can’t Google Their Way to the Truth: Fact-checkers and Students Approach Websites Differently, Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, Education Week, November 1, 2016.
The Trouble with Truth, Janet Driscoll Miller, Search Engine Land, November 23, 2016.
We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here's What We Learned, Laura Sydell, NPR, November 23, 2016.
Truth, Truthiness, Triangulation: A News Literacy Toolkit for a "Post-truth" World, Joyce Valenza, NeverEnding Search (blog hosted by School Library Journal), November 26, 2016.
Stop Calling Everything "Fake News," Will Oremus, Slate.com, December 6, 2016.
How Facebook’s Fact-Checking Partnership Will Work, Mike Isaac, New York Times, December 15, 2016.
Learning to Spot Fake News: Start with a Gut Check, Anya Kamenetz, nprEd, October 31, 2017.