Identifying Unreliable News Sources

Fake News-

Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

“Researchers at Princeton and New York University found that Facebook users 65 and over posted seven times as many articles from fake news websites, compared to adults under 29.”

With the Russian interference with the recent general election and the proliferation of unreliable articles and information sources, it is ever more important to have the skill to decipher fake information verses reliable information.  The Cambridge Dictionary defines fake news as “false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke.” The Cambridge Dictionary also states that “there is concern about the power of fake news to affect election results.” Furthermore, the term fake news has also been used as a political weapon to discredit the media altogether.

Many people are becoming frustrated by the number of information and articles they are bombarded with on social media. What is even more frustrating is the amount of false information and outright lies being published and dispersed throughout cyberspace. The National Public Radio recently wrote an article about training senior citizens to identify unreliable news sources appropriately entitled “With An Election On The Horizon, Older Adults Get Help Spotting Fake News.” The article points out that adults that did not grow up as digital natives struggle with some of the basic strategies needed to identify unreliable sources. Susan Nash, a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity published an article entitled “Teaching Older Americans to Identify Fake News Online.” Another NPR article from October 2019 entitled Fake News: How To Spot Misinformation gives five tips to help us identify misinformation: 1) Exercise skepticism, 2) understand the misinformation landscape, 3) Pay extra attention when reading about emotionally-charged and divisive topics 4) Investigate what you’re reading or seeing, 5) Yelling probably won’t solve misinformation.


  1. This posting initially stood out to me because of how often we throw around the term “fake news.” As educators it is our job to help our students be able to make these distinctions as well. We often forget that students may not naturally understand how to do this and throw them into research. This is doing them a disservice as we would not be teaching them how to do appropriate research for themselves, and skewing their research in the classroom. These articles can also be read by educators to help students make this distinction.

  2. When I read the title of this article, it grabbed my attention because it instantly got me thinking about how often I see fake news all over the internet and social media. I am guilting of reading news on Facebook and believing what I hear or read because of how realistic the information seems to be. Technology is quickly taking over and the more we feed into the fake news, the more fake news that will be produced. We live in a time period where news is at our fingerprints, but we need to learn to determine if it’s fake news or real news.

  3. Like some others have said, the title really caught my eye. Also like some others, I would be lying if I said that I never read “fake news”. Sadly, its a part of our daily lives and we are faced with the challenge of assessing the information of which we were presented. Social media is no help when it comes to uncovering the truth of events. I think that it is a part of human nature to want to be involved with all of the World’s drama. We fell excited when certain situations come about and we can’t help but add our two cents in. While this is wrong and can truly hurt others around us, we still continue to do it, even though we know that it is untrue.

    Another issue, is when you try to find a reliable source to explain the story. In my case, it is always difficult to figure out which sources to believe and which sources not to believe. I was always taught to focus on on ‘.edu , .gov, .org” but as I grow older, I realize that that isn’t always the case.

  4. This article stood out to me because of the term “fake news”. As teachers we need to be able to differentiate what is real and what isn’t. We need to teach students that the news is a source to help us to know what is going on around us. To do so we need to be able to identify the true sources. News and the term fake news shouldn’t be used as a weapon. I am guilty of tossing around the term fake news but this article has helped me to understand that this term shouldn’t be thrown around.

  5. I have always had a hard time trying to figure out what sources are reliable and what are not. I like to try to stick to just using the advanced settings in google, but a good one that I use more the time would be the NKU databases. I use these a lot because I know they come from sources that have been backed up and reviewed before they are put on there. I think that a lot of people, and especially older people do not have access to that kind of material and if they are older, do not understand that most things just put on the internet are not reliable. For my parents, who are above 60, they watch the news constantly and not only are they believing every little bit of information, but they only watch one station that is bias towards the other views of the world. They do not get the facts from every side, so they are not getting all the information in order to come to their own conclusions.
    I am very thankful for having many professors having us use reliable resources that we have to prove and use many times throughout the semesters with them. Without that knowledge, I would as well use unreliable resources.

  6. Fake news spreading on social media was part of the reason I deleted my FaceBook account. I found it really annoying to see people (many of whom were older relatives of mine) posting articles and going on rants. On the other hand, I feel sympathetic for my older relatives who are being “played” in a sense, by these articles. I believe that fake news articles tend to target older people. I liked that your article included some tips on how to identify fake news articles. Now I just need to get my older relatives to understand this info!

  7. The title of this article is what really made me want to take a look at what the article was going to be about. The opening fact seems like it should surprise me more than it did, but when looking at the age of technology and the people over 65 it seems to make sense. Fake news makes me think about some of the older propaganda articles I use to have to observe and look at in the past. The only thing is now with technology everything is going to be posted and reposted multiple times unlike a poster that may hang up in a corner or that gets covered up. Technology and social media is something that is taking over the younger generations, which means it is going to make sense that older generations are trying to take part and get involved with the social media trends. The article “Teaching Older Americans to Identify Fake News Online” is something I am going to have to look over and see how to inform people that I know that may be falling victim to the same fake news.

  8. First of all, I love the last tip from “Fake News: How To Spot Misinformation”: “Yelling probably won’t solve misinformation.” I don’t even have a Facebook and I know it’s a ridiculous amount of heated arguing which is funny because people devalue their own position on any matter when they can’t even control their reaction over a digital front. I immediately value less the opinion of the person who “yells.” Additionally, yelling about the injustice or issue, or misinformation, really, truly doesn’t help. It’s comical to me that this is a tip when it seems like common sense. If yelling about it in person doesn’t get the job done, why would “yelling” over the internet work?

    Regarding the rest of the article, it had never crossed my mind that people who were not born in this digital age would be less capable of distinguishing unreliable and reliable sources. I guess it seems as straight forward as evaluating any paper source to me, but it’s true this group of people was not raised with so much information at its fingertips. Sorting through it all would be overwhelming and far too much work given the amount of information that is available readily in this format.

    Finally, so much fake news has turned me away from trusting anyone. Every news source is putting the news out for a reason. Very rarely is that reason simply to give facts. Nobody goes through all that work to just state facts; people have an intention for the research they do which is to make a point. Even someone who does his or her absolute best to remain unbiased has a reason for going through all the trouble. Not to mention, they have to submit it for publication and that writer or researcher will no longer have any control over how the information will be used, presented, tarnished (likely by being removed form context or put in a different one than intended), or used at all. I have a very hard time trusting anyone.

  9. I overall liked the topic of this article. I think as active citizens in our community, is important to keep up with current events and politics in our country. However, in order to do this, we must know the correct sources to found out this information. I liked how you pointed out that the media will try to stretch the truth or change things in order to get more attention from the public. While this draws more attention to the situation, it displays an incorrect view of the concept at hand. It completely distorts the correct information that we should be reading in the first place. I liked how you included sources to learn how to decipher through reliable and unreliable sources, as this is an important skill to have with the media today.

  10. This article was intriguing to read as a future educator because it is important to have the skill of deciphering fake information so we know we are sharing valuable information with students. This will allow teachers to be role models for children so they learn how to recognize fake news themselves. It was surprising in the article to read about the concern regarding the power of fake news to affect election results. Although fake news can sometimes be looked at as a joke, it can negatively impact those who might buy into the falseness on serious issues in the world. As technology continues to evolve in our modern world, we must work to educate future generations on how to avoid news that is full of lies and over dramatized stories. It is also easy for senior citizens to get tangled in the fake news because they did not grow up in a society surrounded with technology. If we do not teach students now how to identify fake news, their thinking will be skewed as they age. In my future classroom, I want to help students learn how to investigate what they are reading or seeing on a deeper level so they can distinguish facts from fiction.

  11. The term “Fake News” is something that we hear in society almost daily. I knew just from the title that I was going to read and respond to this article because I felt like I could learn a lot about the meaning behind the word. The fact that researchers at Princeton and New York University found that people over 65 posted seven times as many articles from fake news websites, compared to adults under 29, really surprised me. I think this may be because people under the age of 29 are accustomed to navigating this fake media world. It’s important as teachers that we instill in our students from a young age that we cannot always believe everything we read on the internet or see on the news.

  12. I like that the emphasis of the article was on teaching older people how to navigate a digital world and critically assess news. I have observed digital literacy lessons for middle school students, and while certainly important, it does feel slightly redundant as most (certainly not all) kids seem to have a better intuitive sense of the accuracy and legitimacy of an article. They are perhaps more skeptical by nature, driven by their experiences from a young age of interacting online.

    By contrast, I think older people grew up in an era where the news was largely taken as fact, since it was delivered to them by a newspaper, radio, or TV. There are more barriers to entry in those formats than just posting stories on Facebook, so the contents tended to be more grounded in reality. As a result, older people, who have a tremendous power and voice in society, are not well trained to assess “fake news” on the internet. Helping them to make those informed decisions is key to ensuring that they use their power in a responsible manner.

  13. I really enjoyed this article because, especially with all the chaos happening in the world right now, people need to be paying special attention to the news to know what is going on, and having tips to help people know what news is real and what isn’t is very important. I didn’t realize how much more likely those over 65 were to post news that was fake than someone under the age of 29, I think that older individual are less skeptical when they are reading things and they assume that everything on the internet must be true, especially when a news outlet is the one sharing the information. However, those under the age of 29 have seen and heard about this large wave of “fake news” and are much more likely to take a closer look and do more research before they believe everything they read online. Also, I think that nowadays we are being taught more and more to not believe everything that we read on the internet, whereas in the earlier days that is where people looked to find reliable information about things that were happening in the world. I think this is a great resource to show students because then when they are looking at current events they know what to look for to be accurately informed about what is happening in the world. Also, this will help students when they are doing research of any kind, this way they will be able to use reliable sources and make sure that what they are reading is accurate and up to date.

  14. I thought this article looked interesting with “fake news” as the title. Do we really know how to identify what news is fake while we are reading it? I think the statistic at the top is an eye-opener. I do believe that people that are 65 or older tend to believe most everything they read. I think this is especially true with news having to do with the election. With the help of this article, I think older people will be able to easily identify what is fake and not to post it/believe it. I think if we stop posting the fake news then maybe we might be able to somehow stop the spread.

  15. – This article stood out to me because of the heading “Fake News”. I think this term is being thrown around a lot right now and throughout many stressful times. Fake news is something we all need to watch out for because its real. As teachers we are going to need to be able to sort through the fake news to find out what the actual truth is. We will need to show students what reliable and non-reliable new sources are so that when they are looking things up, they know if what they are reading is real or not. In order to teach our students what reliable sources are, we need to be able to pick those out for ourselves. I have been trapped into reading the news articles that pop up on my Facebook and instantly believe that everything in them is true without even thinking twice about it. We need to be able to rationalize through the media especially through times like this.

  16. This article is a very relevant topic in our lives now and most likely will be for generations to come. The media is sort of its own lifeform, which can be very beneficial and efficient but, can also be a little scary and misleading at times. I know that the article is not just focusing on older adults but, it is important to point out that while they may be more susceptible to having trouble identifying false information from the media, anyone can really fall under this scope. Sometimes I think many of us think the older generations are more likely to not see the difference in untrue information or that we may also think people that share this kind of media may be uneducated, that simply isn’t correct. Even as a fairly well-educated college student and as a young adult, I too sometimes find it hard to find the correct version of the information. Especially when there are so many different versions out there. I think the media, as I mentioned before is a double-edged sword. It can help us in countless ways and makes life more efficient overall in so many aspects. But media can be abused and can really do harm if not used properly, we see this with things like cyberbullying and misinformation can also fall into this category of harm. I have always been a strong proponent of becoming less media and technology dependent. I think we should use it and enjoy it but dial back on our media intake. Anything that is overused is not good and if we can strike a balance between our intake of media, it can allow us to listen to our own selves more. If we are able to clear out all the other voices, we can be driven more by our own thoughts and not become these robotic media influenced sheep like thinkers.

  17. I think this is an extremely relevant post! I chose it because of all the coronavirus stuff going on, I wanted to learn what “fake news” is. It is so hard right now to trust anything from the internet that isn’t straight from the CDC. Honestly, I am not sure if i even trust our government as a reliable source of news. I like the statistic about Facebook because EVERYTHING on Facebook is not correct. Someone will share something from two years ago on Facebook making everyone believe it was today because that is when they are seeing it.

  18. I really enjoy the content of this article. Media literacy is something that I am big on and the amount of people who believe anything the internet tells them is crazy. I know I get lots of conversations with my mom about something she saw on facebook just to find out it isn’t real. I take everything with a grain of salt when I read and tend to do extra research. With everything happening with COVID-19, it so important that people look into reliable sources and not just rely on facebook articles.

  19. Many have already spoke on the relevance of this article and how important it is to look into the resources that we read and see regularly. This is even more true now with the Covid-19 pandemic that has impacted the world. To take care of ourselves is more than our health… taking care of ourselves also means being aware of the things we look at and read when trying to learn about this virus (and anything else) and it’s impact on the world. With so many people being home, we find ourselves on the internet, watching news or videos, or reading articles or posts and this is the perfect opportunity to make the time to research what we are taking in as we watch or read. The five tips that you share from another article could be beneficial to everyone in this time at home.

  20. This a relevant topic that needs to be discussed more often. Media Literacy is a very important skill for people to have, it can help open peoples minds and help prevent them from being easily mislead. Like said in the article above this skill is especially important for older generations to learn. Whenever viewing news sources I always found it hard to trust them and know if the information was correct, so in college I took a Media Literacy class and one of the chapters/concepts was fake news. The class showed us strategies on how to debunk fake news, fact check information, and how to keep an open mind when viewing multiple sources with different views.

  21. This title caught my attention because I’ve heard the term, “Fake News” used a lot over the last several years, especially when it comes to politics. This article was very interesting to me because my mother lives with us and she is in the “over 65” age bracket, and she is a prime example of being unable to decipher actual news from fake news.
    I’ve tried to help her spot the fake news articles, but without much success. I’ll still hear her calling from the next room.” Or “Dr Oz. has discovered this new miracle diet pill.” Granted, these are advertisements, but made to look like news! (without permission from celebrities to use their name!)
    This article is very helpful though, and I will use some of the tips to help my mom (and my kids!) to spot misinformation.

  22. The term “Fake News” has been thrown around more than anything nowadays and I see people how we need to discuss how to differentiate between real and fake news in order to avoid being mislead by false information. Although, I see another problem as “fake news” becomes more relevant. I typically see people looking at an article now and saying that it’s automatically “fake news” without even thinking that it’s credible. This means that credible articles could potentially become discredited because of the lack of knowledge. It’s not just about being mislead, it’s about noticing the facts.

  23. Identifying Unreliable News Sources
    The fact that so much misinformation concerning crucial topics (pandemic concerns, elections times and days, election nominees, etc.) spreads throughout cyberspace is deplorable and unbelievably dangerous. “Censoring” misinformation can be tricky as we have to be careful to not restrict American rights on free speech, of course. However, there is a difference between free speech and misinformation. Misinformation targets vulnerable people (those who don’t know how to decipher what is reliable and what isn’t) and minoritized communities. The people whose platforms these harmful articles/statistics run on should be held accountable.

  24. This article discusses “fake news”, what it is, where it might be found, and how to be on the lookout for it. It is very important for American’s to have reliable news sources, especially as an election approaches, so the topic of “fake news” is especially relevant at the moment. I think the number one thing to take away from this article is that we should always be skeptical about any claims made about controversial or divisive topics. It is also a good idea to consult a diverse array of news sources to get both sides of any controversial story. The article brings up senior citizens and unreliable news sources as well, as this demographic seems to be particularly susceptible to “fake news” on the internet. 

  25. Identifying misinformation is of the utmost importance in todays political climate. It is imperative that we assume responsibility as reasonable adults to point out false and libelous information, when presented with such. We live during a time where multiple forms of communication and social interaction are ever-present; our ability to freely communicate through many unique platforms has begun to display new risks. We must adapt to this and speak true while also quelling that which is obviously false.

  26. Misinformation (or “fake news”) has become widespread in recent years. As a result, it can be difficult to determine whether information is legitimate or misleading at a glance. While it is time consuming to become fully informed on an issue in today’s age of misinformation, it is essential that you inform yourself on these topics to prevent the misinformation from spreading further.

  27. In his article, “Identifying Unreliable News Sources,” Dr. Childs makes many great points, especially in regards to the dissemination of “fake news” so close to a very big election. One of the more interesting statistics Dr. Childs points to is that Facebook users 65 and older are seven times more likely to share fake news stories than users 29 and younger. The older generation is not as aware of “fake news” articles, and if the source looks as though it’s “official” they often trust it. This is something that I’m sure many of us have experienced with older relatives and friends.
    Some social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are trying to guard against fake news articles by actively fact checking posts. Many times recently I’ve seen posts that are tagged as being misinformation on Facebook. This is a great thing, but Facebook has too many users to efficiently monitor every single post for misleading or false information. It is important that we be vigilant in not only spotting the fake news ourselves, but in helping our older friends and relatives to spot the false stories as well.

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