There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College. Zimdars continues to refine and add to this list via the project OpenSources.
CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information
CATEGORY 3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news
No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.) Some articles fall under more than one category. Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.
" IFLA has made this infographic with eight simple steps (based on FactCheck.org’s 2016 article How to Spot Fake News) to discover the verifiability of a given news-piece in front of you."
The infographic is published under CC BY 4.0.
Thanks to KT Lowe, librarian at Indiana University East, for creating the original guide of which this one is based and to Diane Shepelwich at University of Texas Arlington for the page she added on News Literacy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please feel free to share this guide with others. If you are a librarian, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes.