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Fake News

This guide is all about news, newspapers and so called Fake News. What it is, What it means, How to spot it and how to find quality, reliable information.

What is Fake News?

Definition of Fake News

fake news: false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.

The term 'Fake News' has become increasingly widespread in recent years, particularly in relation to politics, news and social media. Misinformation, spin, lies and deceit have of course always existed. What makes Fake News different is a unique set of recent circumstances:

  • The growth and influence of social media and the emergence of algorithms and so-called 'echo chambers'
  • People able and willing to make stuff up and post it online, either for political purposes or financial gain
  • Several significant political elections

Fake News has become such a significant issue that in January 2018 the UK government announced that it was creating a brand new department specifically designed to counter it.

The BBC has suggested there are basically two kinds of Fake News:

  1. False stories that are deliberately published or posted to either make people believe something that is totally untrue or to get lots of people to visit a certain website.    
  2. Stories that may have some truth in them, but are not completely accurate. This may be because the people writing them - journalists or bloggers for example - don't check all the facts before publishing or posting their story, or may exaggerate some of it to try and get more attention.

How to spot Fake News

how to spot fake news infographic


In the links below you will find some examples of fake news, including ways to help you spot a fake news story. 

This ITV news report gives some examples of fake news and how to spot it. 

Back in 2016 suggested that Facebook and Google were to crack down on fake news. Access the report which outlines how to spot fake news. 

2017 saw a huge rise in fake news stories. The BBC website ran this item How fake news plagued 2017

Social media platforms are renowned for creating, publishing and sharing fake news items. Take a read of this Blog 11 easy ways to spot a fake twitter account instantly by Chris Makara  an SEO with more than 15 years of digital marketing experience

The British Council have produced a very helpful How to spot fake news test. 


Filter Bubbles and Algorithms

CIGI-IPSOS  Global Survey 2019 : Internet security & trust: (part 3 Social media, fake news & algorithms

The OU have produced a series of videos Social media - fake news, filter bubbles and sharing wisely!

Examples of Fake News

You've heard of Fake News, you know what it is and how to spot it. Below are some examples of Fake News posts and stories to help you recognise a fake from the real thing. 

Social Media 

Facebook post Facebook deletes fake child-cancer posts accounts

BBC News repor Coronavirus: How Facebook, TikTok and other apps tackle fake claims

Report from BBC News about a trending fake news challenge BBC News #Broomchallenge

Twitter report from Wired uk This little-known company is killing fake social media accounts

News reports

The Drum Latest marketing and advertising news for fake news, including insights and opinions.

 The BBC has a section on their website with the latest Fake |News information. BBC online: Fake News 

Fact Checker sites

Tips for Checking Facts:

1. When you open up a news article in your browser, open a second, empty tab. Use that second window to look up claims, author credentials and organizations that you come across in the article.

2. Fake news spans across all kinds of media - printed and online articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, radio shows, even still images. Be prepared to double-check everything.

3. Beware of confirmation bias.  Just because you might agree with what an article is saying doesn't mean it's true.

4. "Constant Vigilance!" as Mad-Eye Moody said in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Always be ready to fact check.

5. Even the best researchers will be fooled once in a while.  If you find yourself fooled by a fake news story, use your experience as a learning tool.

Fact Checkers


If you use Chrome, try the plug-in Fake News Monitor, which will alert you if you are visiting certain sites known to distribute questionable news. It also lists the political leanings of sites.

There are plenty of Add on extensions for Firefox - try FakerFact which checks the reliability of a website. 

To quickly check if a site or a specific URL is safe, you can use Google Safe browsing web checker.


  • Image search TinEye will show the originality of a picture or photo and where it appears on the web. 
  • On an Andriod phone or tablet you can also use Google's Reverse image search to see where pictures originated from. 

WebSite Checkers:

YouTube Videos:

Social Media:

Fake News games 

A very realistic game where you spread Fake News online - see what happens! Fake it to make it 

How many followers can you get using Fake News? Bad News 

Swipe left and right to decide if the story is real or fake? Factitious  

Can you spot the fake stories? BBC Quiz 

Create your own headlines! Break Your Own News 

Television Documentary: Ian Hislop's Fake News: A True History (2019)

Citation: Ian Hislop’s Fake News: A True History, 21:00 07/10/2019, BBC4, 60 mins. (Accessed 09 Oct 2019)


Ted Talks - Lots of videos on the subject of Fake News


Fake News Resources

Fake News help from other Universities 

You can also search the internet for "fake news libguides" or "fake news library information" for example, just make sure you check the source!

Help guide from Manchester Metropolitan University Library 

Help guide from London South Bank University   

Help guide from Indiana University East  

Help guide from Benedictine university 

Help guide from Newcastle university 

Help guide from Fordham University 


Academic articles and reports on Fake News

Search for Fake News resources in the library  Library Catalogue Search 

Academic articles from (2019) 

News reports on the history of Fake News from 2018

BBC online News articles from 2017 on how to spot Fake News. 

Fake News - Covid-19