It seems like there have been a ton of fake or misleading news stories popping up across the internet lately. We recently told you about an abundance of them leading up to this year's presidential election.
There is so much misinformation showing up on Facebook and Google that the two companies announced a policy change this week. They are going to start cracking down on sites promoting fake news. Meaning, they will shut down fake news sites that are using the companies' ad services.
One writer of fake news, who frequently posts stories on Facebook, told the "Washington Post" that he makes nearly $10,000 a month from AdSense. AdSense is an advertising placement service by Google. It's designed for site publishers who display targeted content on webpages to earn money when visitors to their site click on the ads.
Getting paid to write misleading news is a growing business. The goal is to create content that seems shocking so it will go viral and drive traffic to the writer's site. The more visitors the site has, the more money the writer makes.
It can be difficult to tell which stories are real and which ones are fake. That's the evil genius behind this type of writing. Fake-news writers often base their misinformation on real stories, twisting something happening in the real world into false information, hoping it will go viral.
How to distinguish between real and fake news
A professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts is trying to help people spot fake news when they see it. Melissa Zimdars has put together a list of things to look for to recognize fake news sources.
Here are some of her tips for analyzing news sources:
- Avoid websites that end in "lo." - These sites take pieces of accurate information and then package it with other false or misleading "facts."
- Watch out for sites that end in ".com.co" - They are often fake versions of real news sources.
- Avoid a lack of coverage - If there are no reputable news sources reporting on a story, it's probably not real. Having multiple sources covering the same story is a good sign that it is legitimate.
- Watch out for blog posts - Some legit news sources allow bloggers to post on their site. Many of these posts don't go through the same editing process.
- Odd domain names - Not always, but in many cases, if a site has an odd domain name it's rarely truthful news.
- Check reviews - If you're not sure if a site contains real or fake news, look for reviews of the site online. You should be able to find site reviews with a simple internet search.
Those are just some ideas to help weed out what's real and what isn't. Click here if you want to see a Google Doc with all of her tips.
Your best bet for getting accurate information might be sticking with your standard sources that you've trusted for years.