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GEOG 128: Geography of International Affairs

This a course guide for resources related to Geography 128: Geography of International Affairs.

Help! My News is Fake!

As you search for news on your topic, you need to be able to differentiate reputable news sources from fake news, because you will likely find both.

“Fake news” is not news you disagree with. The ability to tell accurate news from fake news is an important skill that you'll use your entire life.  This guide will give you valuable insight in telling fact from fiction online, plus a chance to exercise your newfound skills.

What kinds of fake news exist?

What makes a news stork fake? 1) It can't be verified - a fake news article may or m ay not have links in it tracing its sources; if it does, these links may not lead to articles outside of the site's domain or may not contain information pertinent to the article topic. 2) Fake news appeals to emotion - Fake news plays on your feelings - it makes you angry or happy or scared. This is to ensure you won't do anyting as pesky as fact-checking. 3) Authors usually aren't experts- Most authors aren't even journalists, but paid trolls. 4) It can't be found anywhere else - If you look up the main idea of a fake news article, you might not find any other news outlet (real or not) reporting on the issue. 5) Fake news comes from fake sites- Did your article come from abcnews.com.co? or mercola.com? Realnewsrightnow.com? These and a host of other URLS are fake news sites.There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.

CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.

CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information

CATEGORY 3: Websites that sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions

CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news

No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.)  Some articles fall under more than one category.  Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not.   It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.

Be wary of ads disguised as stories

The internet is a revenue-generating giant for advertisers, and some companies have found success in disguising their ads as news stories in website sidebars, feeds and at the footer of credible stories. You’ve surely seen the ads for “This one weird trick to help you lose weight.” Finding Good Health Information on the Internet can also be a slog through fake and biased information intended to sell you products. You can always trust Medline Plus for accurate, supported information on health issues.