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Understanding & Identifying Fake News: What, Why, and How

#fakenews #falsenews

What is and is not Fake News?

In the March 21, 2017 Vice article, Can Librarians Save Us from Fake News?, Arielle Dollinger quoted Howard Schneider, founder of the Center for News Literacy at New York's Stony Brook University, as he explained Fake News: 

Fake news "is not journalism that changes over time; it's not journalism in which a reporter conveys wrong information because sources have given that reporter wrong information; none of that is fake news," Schneider said. "That's the reality of imperfect journalism, day in and day out, trying to do the best it can." The distinction, Schneider added, is intent. When a news outlet or reporter sets out to purposefully deceive or mislead, or knowingly publishes fabricated information, that is fake news. (Dollinger)



In the December 17, 2016 article, What is fake news? How to spot it and what you can do to stop it,  Elle Hunt with The Guardian explains...

Strictly speaking, fake news is completely made up and designed to deceive readers to maximise traffic and profit. But the definition is often expanded to include websites that circulate distorted, decontextualised or dubious information through – for example – clickbaiting headlines that don’t reflect the facts of the story, or undeclared bias. (Hunt)


"My 'fake news list' went viral. But made-up stories are only part of the problem" article

Why is Fake News so attractive?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Confirmation Bias as...

Confirmation bias (noun) - The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories.

(from Oxford Dictionaries, Definition of Confirmation Bias


And according to Scott Plous in The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making...

Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

(from Wikipedia, Confirmation Bias​)


How is it created and spread? How can we stop it?

"We tracked down a fake-news creator in the suburbs. Here's what we learned" article

By Laura Sydell | NPR



News and Social Media

In March 2011, Eli Pariser, online organizer and author, coined the term "filter bubble" in hisTEDTalk, Beware online "filter bubbles". Now years later, we continue to deal with their effects.

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there's a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy. (Pariser)


In an effort to limit the amount of Fake News trending on feeds, Facebook is tweaking their trending topics algorithms. On a January 25th 2017 NPR article, "Facebook Tweaks Its 'Trending Topics' Algorithm To Better Reflect Real News", Laura Sydell writes:

As of Wednesday, the company has once again changed its trending algorithms. Personal preferences are now out of the equation. "Facebook will no longer be personalized based on someone's interests," Facebook says in a press release. "Everyone in the same region will see the same topics." For now, a region is considered a country, so everyone in the U.S. should see the same topics.

The latest algorithm changes are part of Facebook's ongoing effort to curtail the spread of fake news. (Sydell)