What is "Fake News" exactly? It depends on who's using the term. Unfortunately, many people will use it to try to stifle any news that is unfavorable to them. However, for the purposes of this guide, Fake News describes intentionally fabricated stories, but can also be applied to a broader continuum of news. Although many news outlets will exhibit some form of explicit or implicit bias at one time or another, what matters is whether they are deliberately trying to counter whatever biases they might have by providing the full story with its many perspectives. Assessing the quality of news content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not. It is up to each of us to critically evaluate the information we consume as well as share through social media.
Here is a framework of different types of news stories we encounter online:
Fake News: Sources that intentionally fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports, usually to advance a specific political perspective.
Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information as a way of commenting on current events.
Bias: Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.
Rumor Mill: Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims. Also, sources that value reporting the story first, rather than accuracy.
State News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction.
Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.
Clickbait: A strategically placed hyperlink designed to drive traffic to sources that may provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.