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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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