Skip to Main Content

Fake News Vs. Real News: Identifying Fake News

Decription, links, and resources for distinguishing real from fake news and avoiding alternative facts

Identifying Fake News

If the answer to any of these questions is “no” you should be concerned about the reliability of this source.

  • Can you verify this news story? Is it available on other outlets? Are different versions of the story published by different newspapers and writers?

  • Can you verify that the site you’re reading this article on is both reputable and representing itself in an accurate way?

  • Can you find information about the author, and can you confirm that the author is a journalist? Have they worked for other newspapers or are they an expert in the area they’re writing about?

  • Does the author quote reputable source and provide details to back up their story?

  • Is the article well written and free from grammatical mistakes?

  • Is the article written in a calm, controlled, and professional manner? (If it attempts to shock you or illicit an emotional response rather than to provide facts, or if it uses exclamations marks and question marks, it’s probably not reliable.)

How to Spot Fake News

What Makes News Fake?

1. It can't be verified.

A fake news article may or may not have links in it tracing its sources; if it does, these links may not lead to articles outside of the sites domain or may not contain information pertinent to the article topic.

2. Fake news appeals to emotion.

Fake news plays on your feelings - it makes you angry or happy or scared.  This is to ensure you won't do anything as pesky as fact-checking.

3.  Authors usually aren't experts.

Most authors aren't even journalists but paid trolls.

4.  It can't be found anywhere else.

If you look up the main idea of a fake news article, you might not find any other news outlet (real or not) reporting on the issue.

5.  Fake news comes from fake sites.

Did your article come from  Or  Or  These and a host of other URLs are other fake news sites.


From Iona College's Fake News Research Guide

Fake News Vs. Real News: A (Fairly True) Parody


Concerning news coverage of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill




"Worst Cast Scenario"

Randall Munroe