47 Fake News Signals: Part 3 of 7

CLUES AROUND THE ARTICLE 

14. OUTRAGE HEADLINES. Fake news outlets have found stories that make the reader angry can generate more shares. The use of ALL CAPS is a red flag. 

15. HYPERBOLIC HEADLINES. Hyperbolic headlines, claiming you’ll “never believe” the article’s epic content, suggest you shouldn’t click. 

16. AUTHOR ATTRIBUTION. Lack of author attribution can mean the news story is suspect. Some respected sites, such as The Economist, doesn’t typically identify its writers, but that’s an exception to the rule. Nearly all quality news outlets identify the writer of each article. 

17. AUTHOR CREDENTIALS. Look for other articles by the same author by Googling the person’s name. Have they produced legitimate writing for legitimate news outlets? Their credentials and backgrounds are a guide to the quality of work they are likely to produce as well as the quality of the news outlet you are considering. If the story is about a specialized area, such as health or science, it’s a bonus if the author regularly writes about the subject because the person is also likely to possesses basic knowledge of that particular area.  

18. SUPPORTING PHOTOS. Do accompanying photos visually back up the story’s claims? Do the images even relate to the headline and content?

19. FUNNY PHOTOS. Are photos cropped oddly or taken from some strange angle? Does it appear the photographer was deliberately trying to avoid showing something in the shot? Legit news organizations avoid picking unflattering photos that might bias the reader unless that’s part of the story. This goes for distorted images as well, taken very close to a subject to emphasize someone’s age or physical characteristics. When a site shows a politician or celebrity’s face contorted or just plain goofy in a photo, it’s a subtle attempt to affirm your negative impression of that person and cue you that the article will fit your bias.   

20. MISLEADING GRAPHS. Look closely at any graphs related to an article. Using plot points that misinterpret data can skew the results displayed in the image. Axes should always have labels.

21. BAIT & SWITCH. Reliable websites respect readers by avoiding discrepancies between the headline and the story. Teases designed to trick readers into clicking is a sure sign of a disreputable organization. Reputable sites deliver on the headline’s promise and do not frustrate readers by holding back information in the headline.

Fake News Signals: Part 1 of 7

Fake News Signals: Part 2 of 7

Fake News Signals: Part 4 of 7

Fake New Signals: Part 5 of 7

Fake New Signals: Part 6 of 7

Fake New Signals: Part 7 of 7