Fake News 101

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2018

By Elizabeth Foy Larsen

Anyone who uses social media is likely to encounter fake news—articles, images, and videos that are produced to mislead the public for financial or political gain. Want to fight back? Lindsay Matts-Benson, an instructional designer at the U of M Libraries, offers these tips:

Say no to clickbait. These are revenue-generating headlines that are so shocking or juicy that you feel compelled to follow them, usually to find there’s no “there” there.

Check the domain name. Odd-looking domain names rarely result in truthful news. Avoid addresses with unconventional endings: ABCnews.com is real news; ABCnews.co.com is not.

Look for a byline. A story without an author’s name may be fake news. If a website doesn’t include author profiles, it could be a sign the information isn’t accurate.

Go for blue check marks. On Twitter, these indicate that the information is legitimate.

Verify. Several independent organizations research and rate the veracity of the latest news stories, including Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, and Politifact.com.

For more tips, check out z.umn.edu/smartnews.

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