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Fake News, Misinformation & Propaganda

This guide provides quick access to relevant resources on Fake News, Misinformation & Propaganda.

What is Fake News?

Librarians are often asked, "Why do we need libraries when information is so freely and easily accessible"? One reason is that information has no value if we cannot distinguish between fact and fiction.

Decisions should be based upon truth - You can make sound decisions as long as you have the real facts. For example, if you want to buy stock in a company, you want reliable information about that company so you can invest wisely. If you are planning on voting in an election, you want to read accurate information about 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.

Fake news destroys credibility -  If your arguments are built on false information, it will be much more difficult for people to believe you in the future.

Fake news can harm your health - For example, fake and misleading medical advice can help spread myths like HIV and AIDS aren't related, or that vaccines cause autism. These sites are heavily visited and the misinformation can be dangerous.  (Indiana University East, 2017)

Licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0


How False News Spreads

Tavlin, N. (2015, August 27). How fake news can spread [Video].

4 Categories of Fake News

CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines or questionable information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.

CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information.

CATEGORY 3: Websites that sometimes use clickbait-y (see definition) headlines and social media descriptions.

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

Some articles fall under more than one category.  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.

Licensed under a  CC BY-NC 4.0