1. Check the URL. Where is this story from?
On, Facebook or Twitter, look under the headline to see the address of the website this information comes from. In your web browser, look at the address bar to see the full URL of the website.
If the site has a strange or unfamiliar name, stop right there and search for the same story on Google or elsewhere to try and get information from a source you trust. If it doesn’t show up anywhere else, that’s a big problem.
Also be aware that fake news sites sometimes have domains that are very close to real news sites, such as the fake ABCNews.com.co instead of ABCNews.go.com.
3. If the story has a quote from someone prominent, or from an official such as a police officer, copy and paste it into a search engine.
Fake news often relies on made-up quotes to make the story seem real. If you search for it and no reputable media outlet has it, that could mean it’s not a real quote.
4. Click on links in the story, and beware of a lack of links or recognizable sources.
Fake news articles often make big claims but don’t supply any evidence to back them up. Pay close attention to where any claims are coming from. Do they cite specific people or organizations? Do they talk about other media coverage but not link to it?
Finally, be wary of the empty link. One tactic of fake news sites is to cite a source and link to it — but only to its homepage, not an actual story.
5. Do a reverse image search on photos or other art in the story.
Fake news sites take photos from real news stories or elsewhere online and make up a story around them. But it’s easy to see if that’s what’s going on.
If you use Chrome as your web browser simply right click on an image and select “Search Google for Image.” It will search in Google Images to see where else online this image exists. Look at the other places the photo appears, and see if other sites say the same thing about what it shows.
Another easy way to reverse image search is to go to Google Images, click on the camera icon and then upload the photo you’re trying to search for:
6. If the story seems too perfect, too good to be true, or gives you a strong emotional reaction, slow down for a moment.
Fake news is often engineered to appeal to your emotions, or to seem like a crazy thing that could happen.
Rather than instantly believing and sharing it, wait and see if more information comes out. Taking a breath and keeping an open (but skeptical!) mind will never steer you wrong.
You can also use our fake news checklist to evaluate any story.
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