Epidemic issue of fake news online

By Cassandra Jaramillo

Dallas Morning News (TNS)

The false-news epidemic is getting a lot of attention, especially after an election where many false or misleading articles led Facebook’s trending list. It’s worrisome in an age where 6 out of 10 Americans use social media platforms to consume news, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

Last week, Google and Facebook announced plans to combat the problem through restrictions on advertising, Reuters reported.

But some are taking the matter of media literacy into their own hands. Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of media studies at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, has created a list called “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y and Satirical ‘News’ Sources. ”

Things to watch for

Avoid websites that end in “lo” (example: Newslo). These sites specialize in taking a piece of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts.”

Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” – they are often fake versions of real news sources.

Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story.

Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.

Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.

Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.

Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.

It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.

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