How to Outsmart Fake News in the Facebook Feed

It shouldn’t be like that. fake news actually very easy to see – if you know how. Consider this your guide to new media literacy.

1. Did the story come from a strange URL?

Zimdars says sites with strange suffixes such as “.co” or “.su”, or which are hosted on third party platforms such as WordPress, should raise a red flag. Some fake sites, like National Report, have legitimate-sounding, if not overly generic, names that can easily fool people on social sites. For example, several fake messages from went viral before they were exposed, including a June article that claimed that President Obama had signed an order banning the sale of assault weapons.

2. Does the title match the information in the article?

Mantzarlis says one of the main reasons fake news gets spread on Facebook is because people get sucked in by the headline and don’t bother clicking.

Just this week, several shady organizations spread the story about Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi. “Pepsi stock plunged after CEO told Trump supporters to ‘move their business elsewhere’,” read one such headline.

However, the articles themselves did not contain this quote, nor evidence that Pepsi’s stock had fallen significantly (which it did not). Nooyi made recorded comments about Trump’s election. but never quoted telling his supporters to “do their business elsewhere”.

3. Is this a recent story or an old one that has been redone?

Sometimes legitimate news stories can be twisted and resurrected years later to create a false conflict of events. Mantzarlis recalls an erroneous story that actually quoted legitimate news from CNNMoney.

A blog called Viral Liberty recently reported that Ford moved production of some of its trucks from Mexico to Ohio due to Donald Trump’s election victory. The story quickly spread across the network – after all, it seemed like a big victory for the domestic auto industry.

It turns out that Ford moved some production from Mexico to Ohio. in 2015. It had nothing to do with the election results at all.

4. Can I check the confirmation videos or photos?

Photos and videos are also available taken out of context to support a false assertion. In April, the liberal website Occupy Democrats published a video allegedly showing police taking a young woman out of a bathroom for not looking feminine enough. This was in the midst of the HB2 “bath bill” controversy, and the article was clearly linking them. BEGINS, read the headline.

However, there was no date or evidence on the video that it was filmed in North Carolina, where the “toilet bill” was supposed to be accepted.

Actually, according to Snopesthe same video was posted on the Facebook page in 2015, predating the HB2 controversy.

5. Are primary sources cited in the article?

Not only political news can be fake. Now8News is one of the most infamous fake yet real-looking sites, specializing in weird news that often goes viral.

One such article claims that Coca-Cola recalled Dasani water bottles after a “clear parasite” was found in the water. There was even an accompanying disgusting photo that allegedly showed the parasite, though some basic google search shows that it is most likely a photograph of a young eel.

However, the article was no statements or claims from any company. It is clear that this will be a big story. Dasani or any number of consumer advocacy groups would issue statements or press releases about this, right? You can’t find them – because the story is 100% fake.

6. Are there quotes in the story and can they be traced?

A favorite meme of liberal groups on Facebook, there is a fake quote from Donald Trump allegedly taken from an interview with People magazine in 1998:

“If I had to run, I would run as a Republican. This is the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. it would be great.

This easily exposed if you even think about it for a moment: has extensive archives and it no quote anywhere. in them.

7. Is this the only publication reporting this story?

During this election season, Pope Francis was involved in three super viral and completely false stories. According to various (fake) websites, the Pope has supported three US presidential candidates: first, Bernie Sanders, according to National Report and Then Donald Trump, according to fake news website WTOE 5 News. Finally, another fake news site,, reported that he endorsed Hillary Clinton!

In all these cases, subsequent reports reverted to being fake. Always a pleasure trace history back to the sourceand if you find yourself caught in a loop – or if they all lead back to the same dubious site – you have reason to doubt.

8. Does your own prejudice get in the way?

Both Zimdars and Mantzarlis say Confirmation bias is a major reason fake news spreads as it happens. Some of these are built into the Facebook algorithm – the more you like or interact with a particular interest, the more Facebook will show you associated with that interest.

Similarly, if you hate Donald Trump, you are more likely to believe negative stories about Donald Trump to be true, even if there is no evidence.

“We are looking for information that is already in line with our established beliefs,” says Zimdars. “If we come across information that we don’t agree with, it can still validate us because we will try to find flaws.”

So if you find an outrageous article that seems “too good to be true,” beware: it could be.

9. Has this been debunked by a reputable fact-checking organization?

Do you know what really exists International Fact-Checking Network (who is led by Mantzarlis)? And that he has a code of principles? The Code includes, among other things, the ideals of impartiality and transparency. Sites like, Snopes, and Politifact follow this code, so if you see a rebuttal there, be aware: you get the real deal. View full list here.

10. Is the host on the list of untrusted news sites?

Where is it things can get complicated. Clearly, there is a big difference between “misleading” news, which is usually based on fact, and “fake” news, which is simply fiction disguised as fact. The now famous list of Zimdars cover both types, as well as satire and websites using clickbait headlines. Snopes also maintains a list.

While Zimdars is pleased that her list has received so much attention, she also warns that it’s wrong to write off some sites entirely as “fake”. “I want to make sure this list doesn’t serve the end goal badly,” she says. “Interestingly, some headlines [about my list] as hyperbolic as the ones I’m analyzing.”