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Fake News

Ten Things to Check When Identifying Fake News

Identifying fake news may seem simple, yet a 2016 study at Stamford University found 93% of university students involved in their testing were susceptible to using fake news articles.

The following ten steps are ways of easily identifying fake news stories in the majority of cases

1. Check the Web Address
Web Addresses with misspellings, or unusual domain extensions (e.g. www.example.uksydney) may indicate the website is not authentic, or attempting to mislead users into thinking it is another site.
2. Research the Name of the Website
Conduct a search of the website name, this may uncover reports regarding its authenticity.
3. Look for Visual Clues
Look for blurry images or logos that have been altered in some manner to mimic reputable news sites.
4. Be Cautious of too Many Ads
Fake news sites typically seek advertising revenue above anything else and will usually have a flood of advertisements, including pop-ups and flashing banners.
5. Look for Markers of Established News Sites

Date stamps when the story was published

Authors named

Sources or hyperlinks

Headlines matching the article

6. Check the About Page
Quality websites will have an 'About Us' page outlining their organisation and objectives. In some cases fake news websites will have an 'About Us' page admitting their agenda as works of fiction.
7. Check Photos used Through a Reverse Google Image Search
Fake news sites typically use old or manipulated images to suit their headlines. A reverse image search will identify where the image originally came from and in what context it was used. If the original image is wholly unrelated to the article it is likely fake news.
8. Check Website Registration

Checking where a website is registered, by who, and how they can be contacted can help identify unusual attributes.

For Australian websites, check

For international websites, check

9. Fact Check Claims
Cross referencing claims with other news sites is important to verify any information. If no other website is supporting the claims be cautious, and take your time before sharing information. If in doubt, there are fact checking platforms available to test claims.
10. Be aware of Sensationalism
Fake news attempts to evoke an emotional response to either increase website visits or manipulate public perceptions to reach a specific goal. Sensationalist headlines and claims generally indicate opinion pieces or fake news articles. Instead, look for websites utilising verified data or cited sources.

Source: Poynter

Identifying Fake News

Identifying Fake News Quiz

Should you trust a website with an unusual or misspelled web address?

Sorry, web addresses with strange domains (e.g. www.example.uksydney) or misspelled words are typically sources of false news



Should you trust only one source?

Always ask questions of websites and media outlets. Try to cross reference information.

Good! Cross referencing information is important


Do you take all news articles on face value?

Be aware that some news stories can be fabricated or written as a joke.

Good. Asking questions of stories is important to verifying information.


Do you know where to find more information on fake news?

Wonderful! Your librarians look forward to hearing from you.

If you do have any further questions about fake news be sure to ask a librarian, they are always happy to help.