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K-State Today

September 30, 2020

How to avoid the fake news trap

Submitted by Cailin Riley

Do you wish you could save time investigating the memes and questionable news stories filling your social media feeds? Ever wish the person who shared it had fact-checked it before they shared?  

Fortunately, librarians at K-State Libraries are sharing resources and tools you can use to identify false news stories that run across your feed.

First, it can help to remember that social media was not designed as a news outlet. 

"If your feeds have become flooded with content that makes you feel more emotional than informed, you can choose to hide those posts and get your news from legitimate news outlets and research organizations," said Sara K. Kearns, professor and academic services librarian with K-State Libraries.

If you do want to run down the fact-checking road, Kearns recommends that you find out if someone has already done the work for you before you lace up your shoes. The following sites not only investigate the stories, but they also provide you with more information to back up their claims.

FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan organization that has investigated politics since 2003. They also fact-check science claims. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Journalists at the Poynter Institute collect and explain major studies and events related to fact-checking, fake news and misinformation. 

Politifact is a Pulitzer Prize-winning website created by the Tampa Bay Times and now operates as part of the Poynter Institute. The site focuses on political news and statements made by elected officials. 

Originally a debunker of urban myths, Snopes now investigates memes, tweets and the news. You can go straight to its fact-checking page.

Kearns says these fact-checking sites establish, publish and follow their own investigation guidelines. Sometimes, the researchers clearly confirm or refute the stories. They also provide enough information for the user to come to their own conclusions about more nuanced issues.

For more resources, visit K-State Libraries' Breaking Your News Bubble research guide, and keep an eye out for upcoming articles about finding and evaluating the news and information you need.