News, Resources

Watch Out for Fake News

by Candice Huber, The Dissenting Cupcake

During this past election season, fake news ran rampant. I believe it is one of the contributing factors to the election of Donald Trump. People are really quick to share memes and articles based solely on the headlines, without actually reading or checking into what they say. I recommend always fact checking anything before you jump to believe or share it. Fortunately, Facebook and Google have both come under fire for allowing fake news to be reported, and Politifact recently launched their own “fake news” section and tag. If you want to filter fake news out, there are three Google Chrome extensions that allow you to do so.

Melissa Zimdars, a media professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, has done a wonderful job of compiling a list of fake news sites to be aware of, including both right and left wing fake sites. She also created a tip sheet for news consumers to help us better decipher the real from the fake. Unfortunately, Zimdars was forced to remove her original Google doc list due to receiving harrassment and threats. She is working on new ways to get the list out. In the meantime, since I saved her original list and Zimdars published all of this under a Creative Commons license that allows sites to freely re-print it, I am re-printing it here, along with Zimdars’s tip sheet. Be careful, and always do your research!

Melissa Zimdars Tip Sheet for Deciphering Real from Fake News

  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo (above). These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
  • 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.
  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
  • 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 yet 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 important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
  • For more tips on analyzing the credibility and reliability of sources, please check out School Library Journal (they also provide an extensive list of media literacy resources) and the Digital Resource Center.

Melissa Zimdars List of Fake News Sites & Categories

NOTE: Not all of these sites are intentionally spreading fake news. Use the categories/ratings from Zimdars listed below to evaluate the sites.

CATEGORY DEFINITIONS

CATEGORY 1: Below is a list of fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits. These websites are categorized with the number 1 next to them.

CATEGORY 2: Some websites on this list may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information, and they are marked with a 2.

CATEGORY 3: Other websites on this list sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions, and they are marked with a 3.

CATEGORY 4: Other sources on this list are purposefully fake with the intent of satire/comedy, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news. I’m including them here, for now, because 1.) they have the potential to perpetuate misinformation based on different audience (mis)interpretations and 2.) to make sure anyone who reads a story by The Onion, for example, understands its purpose. If you think this is unnecessary, please see Literally Unbelievable.

  1. 100PercentFedUp.com (2,3)
  2. EnduringVision.com (1)
  3. 21stCenturyWire.com (2, 3)
  4. 70news.wordpress.com (1)
  5. The Free Thought Project (3)
  6. Abcnews.com.co (1)
  7. Politicalo (1)
  8. ActivistPost.com (2, 3)
  9. Addicting Info (3)
  10. AmericanNews.com (1)
  11. AnonNews.co (3)
  12. Private-eye.co.uk (includes 4)
  13. Huzlers (4)
  14. Indecision Forever (1)
  15. RealNewsRightNow.com (1, 4)
  16. Bipartisan Report (3)
  17. Infowars.com (1, 2)
  18. Red State (3)
  19. Blue Nation Review (2,3)
  20. Reductress (4)
  21. Breitbart (2, 3)
  22. RileNews.com (1, 4)
  23. Call the Cops (4)
  24. Cap News  (4)
  25. Sportspickle.com (4)
  26. ChristWire.org (4)
  27. The Free Thought Project (3)
  28. CivicTribune.com (1)
  29. Borowitz Report (4)
  30. ClickHole.com (4)
  31. The Onion (4)
  32. CoastToCoastAM.com (2)
  33. The Other 98% (3)
  34. CollectiveEvolution (3)
  35. MediaMass.net (1)
  36. ConsciousLifeNews.com (2)
  37. MegynKelly.us (1)
  38. ConservativeOutfitters.com (2)
  39. MSNBC.com.co (1)
  40. ConspiracyWire (WideAwakeAmerica.com) (2)
  41. MSNBC.website (1)
  42. CountdownToZeroTime.com (2)
  43. Naha Daily (4)
  44. NationalReport.net (4*)
  45. CreamBMP.com (1)
  46. NaturalNews.com
  47. Twitchy.com (3)
  48. News-Hound.com (1)
  49. NewsBiscuit.com (1)
  50. US Uncut (3)
  51. DCGazette.com (1)
  52. Newslo (1, 4)
  53. NewsMutiny.com (1, 4)
  54. DrudgeReport.com.co (1)
  55. DuffleBlog.com (4)
  56. World News Daily Report (4)
  57. Empire News (1)
  58. Occupy Democrats (3)

Resource Compiled by Melissa Zimdars, originally published under a Creative Commons License and re-printed here.