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Be Mindful of Fake News: It Comes from Both Sides

May 24, 2017

What do Andy Biggs, Donald Trump, and your Drunk Uncle have in common? They shoot the messenger when they don’t like the message, claiming “Fake News,” while quoting legitimately fake news sources.

Don’t fall into the same trap by relying on unreliable or biased sites or sharing these sources on social media. Doing so invalidates your argument.

Melissa Zimdars, professor of communication at Merrimack College, offers these tips on what sites to avoid, and provides a Google doc listing “False, misleading, clickbait-y and satirical ‘news’ sources.” (https://docs.google.com/document/d/10eA5-mCZLSS4MQY5QGb5ewC3VAL6pLkT53V_81ZyitM/preview )

• Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging it with false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
• Avoid common news 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. There should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic.
• 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 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.
• Read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints. Sources 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.

Zimdars recommends reading, watching, listening to multiple reliable news sources, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Atlantic, and NPR.

A partial list of unreliable or biased news sources include: Bipartisanreport.com, bluenationreview.com, breitbart.com, buzzfeedusa.com, dailycaller.com, ddemocraticunderground.com, drudgereport.com, dailykos.com, infowars.com, liberalamerica.org, Newsmax.com, occupydemocrats.com, palmerreport.com, redstate.com, resistancereport.com, shareblue.com, thefederalistpapers.org, thegatewaypundit.com, washingtonexaminer.com, wikileaks.com.