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Evaluating Websites: Identifying Fake News Sources

Guidance for selecting the best sites for your research needs

Fake News?

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, but often stories that seem preposterous are from fake news sources. Before you share a story, or cite it in your research, take some time to find out if it is real. Many people share stories before they even read them.

How can I tell?

Sometimes determining if news is fake is as simple as performing a Google search, other times you will need to do a little digging. Some fake stories may be based on a grain of truth, or based on a misunderstanding.

Take these steps before sharing an article:

  • Read the article yourself - Not just the headline!
  • Try searching these sites to find out if a story has already been "debunked".


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  • If you are still not sure if a site is legitimate look for an "about us" page - and read it! Some fake news sites will state openly that they are satire or for entertainment only.
  • Check out other page links, if there are none, or if they do not lead where you expect, chances are the site is fake. 
  • Consider for yourself if the story is really plausible. Do you really think the president would sign a bill banning the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance? or that Texas has implemented Sharia Law?
  • Check to see if any other (legitimate) news sources are reporting the same story. If not, chances are good that it is made up.
  • Look at the quotes. Who said them? Does the reporter quote more than one source? What do you know about the people quoted? Can you find more information them?
  • Consider what kind evidence the reporter provides in the story. 
  • Look for pop up ads, or other "clickbait". Fake news sources make their money through ads and getting readers to click on them.
  • Look for words and punctuation that play on emotions. The excessive use of ALL CAPS or multiple exclamation points are clues that you are looking at fake news!!!



Advertisements can masquerade as news stories. Ironically, although they may contain the  words "paid content", "sponsored content", or "advertisement", clearly labeling themselves as an ad, many people still do not identify them as such. The "article" above is actually an ad that appeared in the Delaware County  Daily Times. Note the words "Special Advertising Feature" at the top of the page.

Known Fake News or Satire Sources

Sometimes satire is mistaken for actual news. The Onion is strictly a source for satire and humor, however, some of its stories still get shared as real news by those who are unaware. Be dubious of any story from the following sources.

  • The Onion (Satire)
  • World News Daily Report (Fake News)
  • The National Report (Satire)
  • See more from


Be aware of sites that mimic legitimate news sources. Often these will have .co at the end of their domain name. For example uses the abc news logo, but readers will notice stories that are less than credible, no publisher information, and links that do not work. 

More Information

How Fake News Can Spread