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ENGL 1020: Conspiracy Theories (Shifferd): Fake News

What is Fake News?

Fake News

"What is fake news exactly? Fake news is just as it sounds: news that is misleading and not based on fact or, simply put, fake...fake news has the intention of disseminating false information, not for comedy, but for consumption."

— Barbara Alvarez, "Public Libraries in the Age of Fake News." Public Libraries, Nov 2016: 24-7. Accessed 13 Feb. 2017.


Why Care About Fake News?


Access to accurate news reporting is critical for active participation in a democratic society. Read like a fact-checker.1 Open a new page in your browser, and search around to ask questions and seek out multiple viewpoints. You are smart enough to make up your own mind when presented with the facts.

Symbol for Caution

Citing fake news sources destroys your credibility. If your arguments are rooted in information that has been proven false, it will impact your reputation as a scholar and a professional. Look for news sources that follow the Code of Ethics outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists.


Searching Google is not a special skill -- anyone can do it. Learning to research with academic journals and discipline-specific databases is a valuable skill that we are proud to teach at the library. Whether you are writing a research paper, voting in an election, preparing for a job interview, or researching for personal interest, you can find a wide collection of resources at the library to support your research.


You can always ask a librarian for help navigating resources at the library. There is no such thing as a dumb question. You are not bothering us -- helping you access information is our job.

1 Wineburg, Sam, and Sarah McGrew. "Why Students Can't Google Their Way to the Truth." Education Week. Vol. 6, no. 11 (November 2, 2016): 22, 28.

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Categories of Fake News

The research of Professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College has identified four broad categories of fake news:

Fake News is a broad term that encompasses websites that disseminate false information to procure social media likes, clicks, and engagement; websites that share misleading or disingenuous information; clickbait articles; and satire or comedy. Some fake news falls under multiple categories.

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Some content has been adapted from the Indiana University East Fake News LibGuide , the Southern Connecticut State University Libguide, and the Fordham University Libraries LibGuide

Last updated 01/06/2022