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Fake News & Fake Facts: Media Literacy Awareness

Learn how language can be used to in a way that it affects the way people perceive reality. Unlike real news, whose purpose is to simply inform, the main purpose of disinformation is to confuse and manipulate people.

Disinformation - Manipulating Public Opinion


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Misinformation may not be malicious.

  • Mistakes happen. Credible sources, whether persons or media sources, will identify and correct their mistakes when presented with the facts. 

Information becomes malicious when

  • it is deliberately spread for political reasons in the forms of false content, made-up content, hate speech or other forms of deceptive communication or behavior. 

poster Misinformation

Image Source: "Combating Misinformation," Madison County, NY


1. Stop and Think

Before drawing conclusions about a topic and then sharing it with others, reflect on the information you have. Are you confident that the information is 100% true? If someone shares information you shared with them, are you a credible source? If the info was later discovered to be incorrect, would you be comfortable with your name attached to spreading false information?

2. Check the Source

Don’t assume information is coming from a credible place. For example, if it comes from a website, click away from it to investigate the sites history, its mission, and its contact info. You probably wouldn’t take advice from a person that’s known to have a bad reputation, or that is overly bias, so do the same when it comes to other information sources. 

3. The Source’s Source

Where and how does your source get its information? A proper article should cite the information and data they are sharing. Investigate their sources for yourself. Does the information line up, was important information left out, or are facts being twisted? If they don’t have a source at all, or it comes from a non-credible source, that should be a red flag.

4. Check the Date

Does this information align with current events? Make sure you know if there have been updates to the information since it was originally published.

5. Look out for Satire

Is this just a joke that you are taking too serious? If something seems extremely outlandish, that may be by design. Again, check your source and research your author to see if this is their trend. 

6. Viral Traps & Clickbait

Sometimes information is put out, especially on social media, which is meant to be misinterpreted, false, or to create rage in order to get clicks. This information often encourage clicking and spreading by using outrageous or false headlines. Sometimes the posts use language like, “please share this with everyone immediately.” Just because everyone is sharing information, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

7. Check Yourself

Could your own personal bias be making you feel a certain way about a topic and clouding your better judgement? Just because you want something to be true or false, it doesn’t make it the truth.

8. Ask an Expert

If you’re still unsure, ask someone who may have more experience on the matter. Check with non-bias fact checker resources.

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