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Social Media and online resources make it easy for anyone to create, manipulate, and share information. With a click of a button, an article or picture can be retweeted, reposted, or reshared resulting in thousands if not millions of people seeing the content. That is how something goes viral and with so much sharing of information, it is important to be able to identify misinformation from truth.

Defining Terms

Misinformation: incorrect or misleading information. Source: Merriam-Webster

Disinformation: false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. Source: Merriam-Webster

7 Types of Disinformation

First Draft formed as a non-profit coalition in 2015 to protect communities from harmful disinformation. They break the topic down into 7 types of disinformation:

  1. False connection: headline doesn’t match the article
  2. Fabricated content: 100% false & intended to deceive
  3. False context: genuine content with false contextual information
  4. Manipulated content & image: intended to deceive
  5. Misleading content: highlights only one side
  6. Imposter content: same name, different entity
  7. Satire/Parody: potential to fool but no intention to cause harm

Reliable Sources

The following is a list of reliable sources that can help distinguish credible information and news:

  • FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and is suggested for checking up on political claims.
  • Politifact.org The Pulitzer Prize-winning site that researches the claims of politicians and checks their accuracy.
  • AP Fact Check by The Associated Press who have a long-standing role setting the industry standard for ethics in journalism. This site's mission is to report the news accurately and honestly.
  • RetractionWatch.com is used by the academic community to keep track of retractions of scholarly papers.
  • AllSides.com looks for bias and provides multiple angles on the same story so you can get the full picture, not just one slant.
  • Snopes.com is one of the oldest debunking sites on the internet. They focus on urban legends, news stories, and memes. They also cite their sources at the end of each debunking.
  • Contact your librarian!


How to Spot Fake News
Graphic from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

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