NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) –- Fake news is a hot topic these days, as many have questioned whether false or misleading stories spreading on Facebook influenced the presidential election.
How can you make sure that what you’re sharing is real? One educator may be able to help.
Melissa Zimdars is an associate professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. She created a public Google document of “false, misleading, clickbait-y, and/or satirical “news” sources” that started as a resource for her students, but now has been shared by national media outlets like The Los Angeles Times.
There are dozens of websites on the list representing both conservative and liberal viewpoints. Some urls closely resemble legitimate news sources like “Abcnews.com.co” or “MegynKelly.us,” neither of which are affiliated with ABC News or the Fox News anchor.
Zimdars notes that not every website on the list is just making things up. Some circulate information that is misleading or unreliable, some post headlines that are strictly “clickbait” and others are satire or comedy websites that can be mistake for real news.
The document also offers tips for spotting a fake. She recommends avoiding websites that end in “lo” or “.com.co” and being weary of headlines that are in all capital letters or trigger a strong emotion.
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“If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue,” Zimdars writes.
What sites does Zimdars trust? She says she gets her information from mainstream media sources like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Atlantic and National Public Radio.
“It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames,” Zimdar writes.
Since releasing the document, Zimdars says she’s gotten hundreds of suggestions about other fake news websites and will be updating the list as needed.