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Fake News: What is Fake News?

Fake News Defined

Fake news is unverifiable news that appeals to emotion and is often packaged to be shared widely on social media. It generally falls into these categories:

False or misleading stories or images that are shared on Facebook and social media

Websites that circulate misleading, click-baiting, and/or potentially unreliable information

Satire/comedy sites mistakenly shared as actual news


"Fake News" definition from the the Oxford English Dictionary:

News that conveys or incorporates false, fabricated, or deliberately misleading information, or that is characterized as or accused of doing so.

Fake News Categories

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 which 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 or not what you are viewing is true!

Hoaxes and Hoax Finders