Understanding Fake News

Today an increasing percentage of American people are using the Internet and social media as their primary source of news. This can be a great way of staying informed, but it has allowed the growth of sites that post phony stories in the hopes of attracting clicks.

Most everyone has seen stories on their Facebook new feeds or in the margins of websites announcing celebrity deaths, scandals, miracle cures or political stories that turned out to be untrue. This kind of "fake news" can be misleading and even dangerous when misinformation provokes action. At the library, we're in the business of finding information, so here are some tips on spotting and avoiding fake news:·

Do a Google search on the story, but click on the "News" tab beneath the search box to filter the results. That way, you'll only see links to 4,500 reliable news sites.

Be wary of “Sponsored Stories” linked along the sides of websites and above or below articles. It's easy to be confused when you see these kind of links on sites you would otherwise trust, like a newspaper, because they appear to be additional content from the same source. But these are pay-for-placement stories--just like advertisements--that are often phony and take you to other sites.

Check out the source of the story by using Google to search the author's name. Also be sure to look at the rest of the website where the original story was posted to see what other types of content they carry.

Add an extension to your browser to automatically provide additional information about the site and content you're looking at. Download our PDF guide .

Use the news products available here at the library or through our website such as Factiva, Lexis-Nexis or PressReader to find stories on the topic from reputable sources. Here's a full list of these resources.

Ask a librarian to check out the reliability of a source. Contact us at 847-673-7774, email, or chat with us using the “How can we help?” link at the bottom of our website.