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Fake News: Learning to Critically Evaluate Media Sources

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." --Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Newsweek, 25 August 1986, p. 27.

What is Fake News?

What is fake news?

Fake News isn't news you disagree with. The term fake news has been getting a lot of press since the 2016 presidential election. During the election cycle there was an influx of misinformation from websites that, while looking official and credible, were fabricating stories and data to increase their page views. Unlike satire news sites like the Onion, these sites appear official and often even spoof well-known popular news outlets. Fake news is simply false reporting. It refers to news stories that have no factual basis or evidence, usually to make money or cause harm to a person or group. Fake news stories often look similar to real news, so it is more important than ever to consume and share news critically and thoughtfully.  

Why should I care?

Why should you care whether your news is real or fake?

  1. You deserve the truth.  You are smart enough to make up your own mind - as long as you have the real facts in front of you.  You have every right to be insulted when you read fake news, because you are in essence being treated like an idiot.
  2. Fake news destroys your credibility.  If your arguments are built on bad information, it will be much more difficult for people to believe you in the future.
  3. Fake news can hurt you, and a lot of other people.  Purveyors of fake and misleading medical advice like Mercola.com and NaturalNews.com help perpetuate myths like HIV and AIDS aren't related, or that vaccines cause autism.  These sites are heavily visited and their lies are dangerous.
  4. Real news can benefit you.  If you want to buy stock in a company, you want to read accurate articles about that company so you can invest wisely.  If you are planning on voting in an election, you want to read as much good information on 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.

From East Indiana University Libraries