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ENC 1101 (Pridemore) - Fake News and Research: Fake News

This is a guide for students doing research in Professor Pridemore's Comp I class on Osceola Campus.

What is Fake News?

Fake news is false or misleading information intended to deceive readers into believing it is credible and true information. Regarding fake news,  Sapna Maheshwari of the New York Times states that while some fake news is spread with the intent of "Seeking to make money from advertising, false information can also arise from misinformed social media posts by regular people that are seized on and spread through a hyperpartisan blogosphere." 

Communications expert Barbara Alvarez warns that "Without the knowledge of appropriately identifying fake news, these websites can do an effective job of tricking the untrained eye into believing it’s a credible source. Indeed, its intention is deception."


  • False, counterfeit, completely made up
  • Partially true, but distorted, taken out of context, or uses unreliable sources

Why is Fake News a Problem?

  • Individuals make important decisions based on news
  • Hate groups use fake news sites as vehicles to spread their ideas
  • Adversaries use fake news to sway public opinion and sow discord
  • Scammers use fake news sites to collect data and make money
  • Fake news is easily spread online and can be difficult to detect
  • Some fake news sites have been equated with real news sites by people in positions of power, exacerbating the problem

Election-Related Issues 

Types Of Fake News

There are a wide range of sources that can be considered fake news.  Melissa Zimdars, a professor of communication at Merrimack College assigns fake news sites to four different categories listed below:

  • Satire Sources - These sites generally employ humor, exaggeration or parody to comment on current events.  Examples include The Onion, Sports Pickle and News Biscuit.
  • Clickbait Sources - Sensational headlines or images that are designed to attract visitors to visit a page or link with the intent of generating advertising funds.  The information is often credible, but can also be misleading, biased or require clicking several slide or images to reach the actual information. Examples: Liberal America, RedState, The Blaze.
  • Unreliable Sources - These sources cannot usually be accepted at face value and need further verification from other sources to determine if information is credible. The information presented is often based on rumor or hearsay.  Examples: Brietbart, Occupy Democrats, Washington Examiner.
  • Fake/False Sources - These sources use distorted or false headlines with the goal to infuriate, shock, or offend people on social media to encourage likes, shares, or advertising funds. Examples: BostonLeader, BuzzfeedUSA, CBS

Why Does Fake News Exist?

  • To sway readers' opinions
  • To make money
  • To be funny