CLUES FROM THE ADDRESS
22. DOT-GOV. Does the site have a dot-gov address? Generally, data provided by government organizations is trustworthy.
23. DOT-EDU. Does the site have a dot-edu address? Generally, data provided by university research laboratories is reliable.
24. LO & DOT-CO. Websites ending with odd letters like “lo” (such as “Newslo”) or “.co” could be a red flag for fake news sites.
25.COM.COM. Another way to try to trick readers is to add a “com” so the web address almost looks right. For instance “USATodaycom.com.”
26. COUNRY-CODE TOP-LEVEL DOMAINS. The end of some website addresses is a clue to the site’s originating country. For instance, “dot-au” means the site is based in Australia and “dot-ng” means the site is based in Nigeria. If you find a supposed article about your community on a website coming from a country far away, it probably means the writer isn’t likely to have access to the necessary sources to write a competent story.
27. ODD NAMES. Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
CLUES FROM THE SITE
28. ABOUT. Check the site’s “about”page for information about who is behind the operation. If you aren’t familiar with the name, look for information about who owns it. For instance, the Russian government owns the RT network. What bias you can expect from its news coverage.
29. DATES. Look for a date on the page to make sure the story is not outdated. Reliable sources want readers to know when the information is posted and will usually have the date clearly displayed near the headline.
30. WEB DESIGN. Poor web design is a red flag. Is the design out of date when compared to other reputable sites? Is the display navigable and professional?
31. CORRECTIONS. Does the site make corrections as it receives new information and does it make those corrections obvious? Typically, a note will be added to the top or bottom of a news article when even a factual change is made to a story. In a print or broadcast story, the original error should be clearly state along with the correct information.
32. OTHER ARTICLES. Look for information you know to be false in other articles on the site. Does the site offer quality information on other topics besides the one you are investigating.
33. LINKS. More clues can be found by conducting a Goaccess to the original source material so readers can make up their own minds about how it was used. ogle search, using the query “link: website name.” This will indicate what kind of other sites link to the one you are inspecting. If reliable websites refer its readers to the site, that’s a good sign.
34. COMMUNITY POSTS. Some sites allow bloggers to post pieces under the banner of the news brand (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs). The site editors typically do not vet these posts, making the material suspect.
35. PREVIOUS FAKE NEWS. Do Snopes, Wikipedia, or other such sites show the website in question as having a connection to spreading false information in the past? While Wikipedia is generally pointed in the right direction but can contain some questionable information, the links to other sites it provides can be invaluable in the hunt for truth.
Fake News Signals: Part 1 of 7
Fake News Signals: Part 2 of 7
Fake News Signals: Part 3 of 7
Fake New Signals: Part 5 of 7
Fake New Signals: Part 6 of 7
Fake New Signals: Part 7 of 7