How to spot fake news

How to spot fake news

Read some tips for spotting fake news to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.

Reading text

Every time you're online, you are bombarded by pictures, articles, links and videos trying to tell their story. Unfortunately, not all of these stories are true. Sometimes they want you to click on another story or advertisement at their own site, other times they want to upset people for political reasons. These days it's so easy to share information. These stories circulate quickly, and the result is … fake news.

There is a range of fake news: from crazy stories which people easily recognise to more subtle types of misinformation. Experts in media studies and online psychology have been examining the fake news phenomenon. Read these tips, and don't get fooled!

1. Check the source

Look at the website where the story comes from. Does it look real? Is the text well written? Are there a variety of other stories or is it just one story? Fake news websites often use addresses that sound like real newspapers, but don't have many real stories about other topics. If you aren't sure, click on the 'About' page and look for a clear description of the organisation.

2. Watch out for fake photos

Many fake news stories use images that are Photoshopped or taken from an unrelated site. Sometimes, if you just look closely at an image, you can see if it has been changed. Or use a tool like Google Reverse Image search. It will show you if the same image has been used in other contexts.

3. Check the story is in other places

Look to see if the story you are reading is on other news sites that you know and trust. If you do find it on many other sites, then it probably isn't fake (although there are some exceptions), as many big news organisations try to check their sources before they publish a story. 

4. Look for other signs

There are other techniques that fake news uses. These include using ALL CAPS and lots of ads that pop up when you click on a link. Also, think about how the story makes you feel. If the news story makes you angry, it's probably designed to make you angry.

If you know these things about online news, and can apply them in your everyday life, then you have the control over what to read, what to believe and most importantly what to share. If you find a news story that you know is fake, the most important advice is: don't share it!

Task 1

Task 2


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Average: 4.2 (77 votes)

Submitted by Maksim on Fri, 31/01/2020 - 12:18

I guess, I haven't seen fake news, but my father told me some news which was obviously faked, but the most terrible is that he truly believed that. And it's frightening me a lot.
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Submitted by mtalebi on Sat, 25/01/2020 - 06:08

Yes, I have read a lot of fake news especially on whatsapp. I try to managed them.

Submitted by omarsupreme47 on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 15:55

I have seen hundreds of fake news especially on Facebook and fake news in this era is quite common even reliable company's shares fake news *If I see fake news online I would report the site or the page etc

Submitted by Tajbibi Shamim on Sat, 14/12/2019 - 19:12

Most of the time, it is done on YouTube. The religious groups, who are spiteful of each other , create fake news about the favourite personalities and spread gossip about their past behaviours and personal lives.

Submitted by lifelearner on Fri, 13/12/2019 - 11:26

HELLO, i have a note about a task 2 question : Many fake news stories are written … a.without capital letters and with terrible spelling. a way that makes people upset. c.inside of advertisements that pop up on your screen. the correct answer is b. , but i also think that c. can be a correct answer, too. is there anybody agree with me ?

Hello lifelearner

I think you're right that it's easy to find fake news stories by clicking on advertisements that pop up, but the third option actually says something slightly different. It says that the stories are inside the adverts; the text says that there are adverts on the pages where the fake news stories are.

Do you see the difference? Thinking of this, I think the second option is still clearly the best answer, even though there is some truth to the third option.

Does that make sense?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HelianG on Mon, 18/11/2019 - 21:08

lately the fake news about youtubers have been increasing it is a kind of joke for teenagers,but I am aware that a lot of people, espeacially old people, do not know who youtubers are, so they think that those news are real and share them,even people from the government have fallen in these fake news.

Submitted by MohamedAdk on Wed, 30/10/2019 - 22:03

In my country we have a lot of these website , they want to make money for this fake news , they put in the website fake pictures of artistes or other people to create something for attracting people . So because i am professional in photoshop i see if the picture is fake or no .

Submitted by cittàutopica on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 15:43

Sometimes I read a fake news story online, but it happen to me more often that I read some news regarding politics (for example) and I realise that news is partial only after reading the same on an other site, with some details which weren't on the first site. In these cases we aren't talking of a fake news story, but of an unfair information.