In high school many assignments that students are given have a research component to them. This means that students are being asked to find news that supports their work but more importantly they are being asked to decipher if it is real or fake. The problem with this is that most high school students do not know how to tell if an article or video they watch online is real and based of facts or fake and made up. Since I am becoming a high school teacher I believe that it is my responsibility to help students gain a better understanding of how to spot fake news online. I believe that there are three main ways to quickly check for fake news:
1. Look For Credible Sites
When looking at a site it is important to look at the details on the site because this can tell you quickly if the site is credible or not. I have made a checklist that is easy for students to use to see if there are any red flags on the sites they are using.
- Does the website have an author
- When was the information posted
- Does the source look professional
- Is the site overflowing with commercials
- check the links
- Is the information biased
If you can confidently check off all of these boxes and rule out sites with bias, commercials, and false links then the site you are using is most likely credible.
2. Cross Check Information
If you find information on a website and you are not sure if it is fake news or factual, it is always a good idea to look for the same information on other sites. If many credible sites have the same information than you can be assured that the information in facts. However if you can not find the same information on any other sites then you probably should not use that source because it is likely fake news.
3. Search Without Emotions
Most fake news sources will try to attack readers emotions by using false information that will cause readers to react. If you are reading a site and it is very biased and is directly left leaning or right leaning that is a big red flag. In these situations it is important to leave your emotions aside and use the other two tools that I listed above to determine the credibility of the site.
A Few Tools to Spot Fake News
- Spot the Troll is a fun website for students to learn how to differentiate fake profiles and real profiles online.
- Break the Fake is another online quiz to help students find fake news accounts and pages.
- How to Tell if a Website is Credible is a helpful resource that will cross check pages to determine if the page is fake or not