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!

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Worksheet62.91 KB

Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by ryota on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 11:43

I have read some fake news story online. Fake news has a great influence power. Sometimes, I have been deceived by fake news. For example, when it was disaster, news that zoo escape from the zoo came up on SNS. This news spread very quickly and made people uneasy. Recently, there was news that toilet paper couldn't be produced due to the influence of COVID-19. Many people buy a lot of toilet paper and many stores have run out of toilet paper. Later, both of these news find to be fake news. I'm worried about that fake news will trick many people from now on. Fake news confuses people. I think it is important to determine right news.

Submitted by Y on Sat, 11/07/2020 - 18:43

I have read a lot of fake news online. In today’s society, information networks are developing. And many people have own smartphone or computer. So fake news will spread. I often read fake news about celebrities and natural disasters. For example, celebrity scandals, big earthquake forecast and so on. The fake was said by one person will be spread throughout the world. It causes a lot of problems through SNS. People who read fake news believe it and tell other people. The action may make people bothered or anxious. I hope the fake news is gone.

Submitted by Osuke on Sat, 11/07/2020 - 17:21

I have ever read fake news online. Some of the things I read were obviously lies and some were unclear whether true or not. Sometimes I have been fooled by a lie article. We can easily find various information by searching the internet. But not all are correct. After I realized that not all information on the internet was correct, I started to watch news on TV. I think that the information provided on TV news can be said to be reliable, so I think we should look TV news. Especially now COVID-19 is a serious problem, I try not to get wrong information.

Submitted by Wakana M on Mon, 06/07/2020 - 03:48

I have read some fake news stories online, and sometimes I have believed in them. Sometimes I could recognize them, sometimes I was fooled by them. I notice it is fake news every time I watch the TV and I talk with my family or friends. The fake news always confuses our mind. The internet is so easy way to search information. But we should be careful to use them because there is a lot of fake news. These days I’m trying to be careful using the internet. I think the most important thing to use the internet: don’t believe in articles on the internet too much. and also I want to be careful not to believe then too much.

Submitted by Riko on Mon, 06/07/2020 - 02:42

Nowadays, the COVID-19 is prevalent. I have read some fake news about this virus. For example, an article says there are many infected people in 〇〇 hospital. However, this was a fake news. I thought this is a true information and I didn't doubt it. When I realized this was a fake news, I was a little shocked. Fake news is the problem in this age. It is easy to read and spread. If we don't doubt any online news, we may become fake news spreaders. So, we have to be more careful for online news.

Submitted by Nanami on Fri, 03/07/2020 - 08:10

I've never read a fake news story online directly but I've seen that news programs often report about the spread of it. The fake news spread that the owner of the store died because of COVID-19 before. Actually he isn't dead but after that, sales of this store fell off. Spreading the fake information will be troubled unrelated people. It isn't easy to judge if the news is correct. But these days we can share information easily using SNS such as Twitter, so I think we often retweet before considering the correctness of the information. I will try to convey it to others after checking the four tips above.

Submitted by moonbaby on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 15:07

Hello, Fake News are stubit, who is with me?

Submitted by Blers on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 13:31

This Information about Fake News helped me a lot because i see fake news everyday. I think it is important to talk about it so everyone is clear about it and knows how to handle fake news.

Submitted by jaywest on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 12:04

I read about fake news almost everyday. I think everyone does. I know how to spot fake news and I have my methods... The article was quite helpful and i think many other people can approve of this. Have a nice day!

Submitted by yusuke on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 08:08

No, I haven't, I guess. Because I always feel it useful when I read some articles. But I really worry about fake news. There are lots of dangerous point in websites. For example, links are really useful but need to be careful to handle. You can jump to a site, but what if it is a fake and you are taken in trouble. This accident should be avoided. So, I always use website carefully.

Submitted by Ayaka on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 07:15

I have believed in fake news several times. It’s not easy for me to determine if the news conveys the right information, the wrong information, or the coverage that gives a particular image. But we need to get the right information. So I thought we had to make sure that the information was correct in many places, instead of believing it completely at once. In addition to that, I also thought about what purpose it was reported in such a way. After reading this text, I would like to get a lot of information so as not to be confused by fake news. That’s very important.

Submitted by senes19 on Fri, 26/06/2020 - 17:44

Yes of course I have many times read fake news. And it is almost right information which includes the passage's. And also I want to add that sometimes the governments may use this fake stories. Unfortunately this is a huge problem of each country. I am worried about this fake story. Because many people believe and trust these stories and they can't afford fakes desires. I have seen many example. Particularly the people who doesn't like to search and self-educate believe easily. And then they do what they say.

Submitted by Austin on Mon, 08/06/2020 - 07:30

I had read the news I think it's totally fake, I read that from Facebook someone posted it and then I clicked it, first the address is weird to link in other sites, second it's had so many ads, third the written is bad felt all information is a mess up. In my point of view, I think it is easy to recognize what is true I think just trust some official and well-known sites will be fine, no to the level of worried but feel annoyed.

Submitted by Wiola on Sun, 07/06/2020 - 13:31

In my point of view fake news are negative plague of information sharing. Especially dangerous in situations when a news concerns public relation aspects, for example accident in nuclear plant.

Submitted by mouna99 on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 19:23

Yes, especially when I am looking for courses..

Submitted by syah on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 10:02

Of course I really often read fake stories, especially on social media. But, at that time, I didn't really mean on them. Now, I realize that the fake stories really bothering me. They can make us to blame other people easily and drive peoples' opinion. So, we must be careful when we read or watch the news.

Submitted by soniagrajales on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 21:41

For these days specially I've read some fake news, yes. I'm worried about because there are people who believe everything they read and can easily get anxious or bad and also they share those news without confirming, making other people to get confused or bad too

Submitted by Muhammad Bagir on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 05:17

I've read a lot of fake news, especially when election time in 2019. Many of them ar contained hate speech, irrelevant data and information, and try to drive people's opinion.

Submitted by Mohamedakram16 on Wed, 13/05/2020 - 17:45

I often read some fake news on social media, especially facebook, and I don't really know why that news has been publied and what is its purposes, but I don't usually worry about it because I have already know that isn't true !
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Submitted by JuanManuelLopezGil on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 00:47

Yes. Was horrible because I shared that fake-news in a WhatsApp Group of the Colombian Red Cross and they scolded me.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sat, 18/04/2020 - 11:06

Yes. I had. Yes, I am.

Submitted by Daudau0601 on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 04:34

yes i have read a lot of fake news ọn facebook. There are many pages and account posted fake information that is concerned about hot news to fool. Sometimes i only see pictures or title in that pages, i know its a fake information and i never share. Besides, when i watch film or listen to music on some websites, i see a lot of advertisement which is so interesting, it require user provide my email or account to participate their program but i don't care and i delete it.

Submitted by Justy on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 08:34

Yes, a read a lot of fake news on websites. The last one was, that: wild animals come back on the street big cities. Unfortunately, I believed in that. But then I found the article about this topic, where an author unmasked this fake news.

Submitted by conejo on Mon, 13/04/2020 - 02:23

In this moment, it is very common to find a lot of fake news in social media and it is very easy to be tricked into believing something that is not true.

Submitted by fathibba34 on Fri, 10/04/2020 - 20:09

Every minute or second we read news in social medea, we all know that the new technology as it has many advantages it has a lot of disadvantges, and we have from them fake news. Its so difficult to know if the news are true or fake, and sometiems look as rumours or misinformations but after some time we will see it in official declarations in different chanals and news. sinerly, i m worry fro this problem of fake news that can make the devil as good and the good as devil.

Submitted by Gabriel Rojas Esté on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 15:19

Yes. Unfortunately, I have read fake news story online many times. I am very worried about this problem because It could create social and politicals disorders. For example, In the case of coronavirus people has been bombarded with all kinds of fake news.

Submitted by Mamta Gusain on Fri, 27/03/2020 - 12:03

Yes, i get to watch fake news online several times. it has unrelated content, looks, fake pictures and lots of advertisement are visible on the same page. Sometimes i get fake emails also, in which, the mailer asks me to share my personal account details to credit the lottery amount which i have never participated. on the spot i delete these types of email.

Submitted by Selma1987 on Fri, 06/03/2020 - 19:36

Actually sometimes am confused about stories is it fake or real, that's why now I can't believe anything specially from social media, only from original sources I can believe.

Submitted by shahhoseini on Sun, 23/02/2020 - 12:51

Yes, I have. There are lots of fake news on social media and unfortunately, many people believe them!

Submitted by huyentran on Sat, 15/02/2020 - 10:10

I have read fake news and the problem I encountered is not so serious, but it makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Firstly, It wasted my time reading fake news. Secondly, I was worried about reading fake news about horrors or illness and the most important thing was that I talked and alerted the people around what I read while it was fake.

Submitted by imeel on Tue, 04/02/2020 - 21:02

Yes, I have. There are many evil people outthere. They only have one purpose, they just want other people to make feel bad and angry. Something I do now is follow some of the things shared on the article, but what about young people? For example, there are teenagers that follow youtubers that say whatever and his followers believe in all the things they say.

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.
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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Mon, 26/08/2019 - 17:11

Recently in Latin America, with the situation of The Amazon, many fake news have been being shared in the social media; magazines, youtubers, influencers, have manifested against the situation of the Amazon sharing photos from other websites or even from ancient natural disasters that show showed animals burned etc, something that most of the people are more sensitive about, and those photos just make the problem being seemed worse than it really is so that as we see them, we feel guilty and we end up donating for "help". Also they are finding guilty among the politicians or companies just because it is matter of the different political parties, and also taking advantage of the ignorance of people about ecology.