Detecting Fake News

Article Date
October 7, 2017

How you read information is vitally important to learning and research. Not everything that is published is held to the same standards. An expert writing a peer-reviewed journal article has to meet a much higher standard of reputability to be published than an organization's website. With social media and the fluid transfer of information through the Internet, detecting what is crap and what is reputable is difficult.

Use the CRAP test to help detect if the resource is appropriate.

C: Currency--Is it current? Is there a date?

R: Reliability-- What information is included? Are there references? Is it balanced? 

A: Authority--Who is the publisher? Who is the author?  Are the reputable?

P: Purpose-- Is it fact or opinion? Is it trying to sell you something?

If you are not sure if a source passes the CRAP test ask your librarian or your professor.

You can also fact-check stories on a variety of websites including Politifact and Snopes.

Recently, NPR published a story on detecting fake news with an app developed at American University.  The app, Facticious, is modeled after a dating app; swipe right if you think the story is real, swipe left if you think it is fake. Give it a try and see how you do.