Tuesday, November 15, 2016

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources

One of the features of this election cycle was the proliferation of articles shared on social media that often led to the circulation of false information. Or to put it more bluntly, there sensationalistic lies were being circulated from sources that themselves were not credible. Usually one set of defenses I recommend is to keep the following websites bookmarked:




These fact checking websites have the advantages of being politically neutral (completely independent, and offering no advocacy of a party affiliation or ideological affiliation), and are run and staffed by individuals really do examine the validity of statements made by politicians, websites, media figures and so forth. The articles you will get from Snopes, Politifact, and Factcheck are well-sourced and verified. They can be trusted.

Beyond that, it is important to have on hand a list of websites that are not providing valid information. Their articles on the surface appear to be "news" but they really aren't. Some, like The Onion, are satire. Unfortunately, I have witnessed a rise in people circulating stories from The Onion as if they are real. These are smart people, by the way, who are simply overwhelmed by the overload of information. Other sites are pretending to be legitimate but are not. In that spirit, keep bookmarked the following website:

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical "News" Sources

Basically, if it seems too outrageous to be true, it probably is. The author of this valuable resource offers the following advice, with which I will close this post:

Tips for analyzing news sources:
  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo (above). These sites specialize in taking a piece of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts.”
  • Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources.
  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. 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.
  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not specifically included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.

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