How to outsmart fake messages in your Facebook feed


It doesn't have to be that way. There are fake news actually really easy to spot – if you know how. Think of this as your guide to the readability of new media.

1. Does the story come from a strange URL?

Says Zimdars Websites with strange suffixes like ".co" or ".su", or hosted by third party platforms like WordPress, should put a red flag. Some fake websites, like National Report, have legitimate-sounding, if not too general, names that can easily fool people on social websites. For example, some fake reports from went viral before being exposed, including an article in June that claimed that President Obama had signed an order to ban the sale of attack weapons.

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

Mantzarlis says one of the main reasons why false news is spread on Facebook is that people are attracted to a heading and a heading Don't bother to click through,

Just this week, some dubious organizations have released a story about Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi. "Pepsi STOCK is dropping after CEO told Trump supporters to take their business somewhere else," was one of the headlines.

However, the articles themselves did not include this quote, or evidence that Pepsi stock saw a significant decline (which it did not). Nooyi made recorded comments on Trump's election, but was never quoted and told his followers to "do business elsewhere."

3. Is it a recent story or an old one that has been rethought?

Sometimes legitimate messages can be twisted and revived Years after creating a false amalgamation of events. Mantzarlis remembers a flawed story that actually cited CNNMoney's legitimate news.

A blog called Viral Liberty recently reported that Ford has shifted the production of some of its trucks from Mexico to Ohio because of Donald Trump's election victory. The story quickly caught fire online – after all, it seemed like a huge win for the domestic auto industry.

It turned out that Ford moved some manufacturing facilities from Mexico to Ohio in 2015. That had nothing to do with the election result.

4. Can the supporting videos or photos be checked?

Photos and videos can also be taken out of context to make a false claim. In April, the liberal Occupy Democrats published a video that allegedly showed a young woman who was removed from a bathroom by the police because she didn't look feminine enough. This was during the height of the HB2 "bathroom bill" controversy, and the article clearly linked the two. "IT STARTS," read the headline.

However, there was no date on the video or evidence that it was filmed in North Carolina, where the "bathroom bill" was supposed to be handed over.

According to Snopes, the same video was posted on a Facebook page in 2015, which means it took place before the HB2 controversy.

5. Does the article cite primary sources?

It's not just political news that can be wrong. Now8News is one of the most notorious fake but looks websites, specializing in strange 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 a rough picture that supposedly showed the parasite, although some basic googling reveals that it is most likely a photo of a young eel.

Regardless, the article had No statement or claim from a company, That would be a big story, of course. Dasani or any number of consumer protection associations would publish statements or press releases about it, right? There are none that can be found – because the story is 100% fake.

6. Does the story contain quotations and are they understandable?

A favorite meme from liberal Facebook groups contains a false quote from Donald Trump that is said to come from a 1998 People Magazine interview:

"If I ran I would run a Republican. You are the stupidest group of voters in the country. You believe anything in Fox News. I could lie and you would still eat it up. I bet my numbers." would be great."

This can be easily unmasked if you take a moment to think about it: has extensive archives, and it does Quotation is nowhere to be found in them.

7. Is it the only point of sale that tells the story?

During this parliamentary term, Pope Francis was involved in three super-spiral and completely wrong stories. According to various (fake) websites, the Pope has endorsed three US presidential candidates: First, Bernie Sanders, as the National Report and "reported". Then Donald Trump, as "reported" by the fake news site WTOE 5 News. Finally, another fake news site reported that he supported Hillary Clinton!

In all of these cases, all subsequent reports went back to the fake ones. It's always good too Track a story to the original source, and if you are in a loop – or if all lead to the same dubious place – you have reason to doubt.

8. Does your own bias interfere?

Both Zimdars and Mantzarlis say Confirmation bias is an important reason fake news spreads like it does. Some of it is integrated in the Facebook algorithm. The more you like or interact with a particular interest, the more Facebook shows you what has to do with that interest.

If you hate Donald Trump, you'd rather think that negative stories about Donald Trump are true, even if there's no evidence.

"We are looking for information that already fits our beliefs," says Zimdars. "If we come into contact with information that we disagree with, we may be reaffirmed as we try to find bugs."

So if you find an outrageous article that "feels too good to be true", be careful: maybe it is.

9. Has it been exposed by a reputable fact-checking organization?

Did you know that Mantzarlis actually has an international fact-checking network? And that there is a code of conduct? Among other things, the code includes the ideals of non-partisanship and transparency. Websites like, Snopes and Politifact adhere to this code. So if you see debunking there, you know You get the real deal, Check out the entire list here.

10. Is the host on a list of unreliable news websites?

That's where Things can get difficult, There is obviously a big difference between "misleading" messages that are usually factual and "false" messages that are only disguised as facts. The now famous list of Zimdars covers both types, as well as satire and websites where clickbait-type headlines are capitalized. Snopes also maintains a list.

Although Zimdars is happy that her list has received so much attention, she also warns that the complete copying of some websites as "fake" is not correct. "I want to make sure that this list doesn't do much harm to the end goal," she says. "It is interesting that some of the headlines [about my list] are just as hyperbolic as the ones I'm analyzing. "