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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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