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How to Spot Fake News

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Lee, Clemens Mill | August 1, 2017

“Critical thinking is a key skill in media and information literacy, and the mission of libraries is to educate and advocate its importance.”
- International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

Hoaxes, deliberate misinformation, outright lies that sound like they might be true… the internet has certainly been a breeding ground for #fakenews stories that leave us questioning the media’s motives at a time when we need trusted, verifiable facts more than ever.

The 2016 American election saw a huge rise in the number of independent, online fact-checking websites like Politifact, FactCheck.org, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Canadian FactsCan, as a means of combating the disinformation that seemed to take over the news cycle each day. But how does the average person know what to believe when it all looks so real? Do we have to rely on Facebook’s algorithms to filter out untruths? Will The Onion replace CNN as “The Most Trusted Name in News”?

Fortunately, there are a slew of credible online sources available to help you develop your critical thinking skills to figure out what you can believe, and what is total hokum. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has published an excellent infographic that simplifies and streamlines how to spot fake news. The Globe and Mail published a quiz testing your ability to recognize fake news online, and MacLean’s has an excellent article titled Is Satire Still Possible in the Era of Fake News? exploring the effect of “clickbait” on consumers of digital news.

Your local library is also an excellent place to access resources that can help you discern the real from the fake. When in doubt, ask a librarian!