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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

Is it Fake?: Fact Checking--Text Version

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1. Trust Your Gut: If a headline looks like it is too good to be true, too scary to be true, or raises any red flags in your mind, you are probably right.

2. Look for Credentials: Conduct a quick Google search of the author's name. Is the author an expert in the field? A journalist for a reliable source? Does the author actually exist? Wikipedia entries, official staff directories--even Snopes.com can help you answer those questions.

3. Check the Sources: A quick web search of the article's sources (an expert's name, an alleged study, or an institute/think tank) will usually reveal any problems such as a fake, satirical, or biased source. For example, if the article cites a scientist from Harvard, check the Harvard directory for that person's name.

4. Watch the Words. Though there is no such thing as a truly objective source, fake news sites can often be identified by the language they use. Red flags include profanity, emotional, or incendiary language. Legitimate news sources feature opinions, but clearly label them as such.

5. Check the Web Address: Watch for modifications of familiar URLs. For instance, an added domain (.co, .tv). Examples: Chronicle.su takes you to a fake news site called Internet Chronicle, not the more familiar Chronicle of Higher Education (www.chronicle.com).