How to spot fake news

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

Instructions

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!

Discussion

Download
Worksheet62.91 KB

Language level

Do you need to improve your English reading skills?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English reading skills with our online courses.
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Submitted by German on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 02:34

Permalink
Online exists so many fake news now. I have read fake news and I have thought that are real news because they seem real. I think that we have to be alert and ever to search the rela sources of the news.
Profile picture for user Jack Milgram

Submitted by Jack Milgram on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 06:26

Permalink
There is so much fake news that I usually double-check each one. It would be great to know how to fight against anything fake. Any ideas?

Submitted by Dmytro on Tue, 02/02/2021 - 10:06

Permalink
I find fake news a big problem that shapes the opinion of billions. Unfortunately, I believe, people who cannot distinguish fake news from real ones are not able to dig deeper. In the best-case scenario, they are just excessively trusting. As for me, it's disgusting to acknowledge that if fake news is existing, it is "demanded" for those who are quick to believe and quick to judge. Fake news like junk food, accessible, affordable, not good for mental health but, at the same time, very popular.

Submitted by Yalincocuuk on Fri, 29/01/2021 - 00:12

Permalink
Nowadays, social media addicts try to do everything to get lots of interaction. Sharing fake things like screen shots of fake textings etc is an easy way to be famous in Twitter for 15 minutes!

Submitted by Asni on Thu, 28/01/2021 - 00:11

Permalink
It is common knowledge that, thanks to the Internet especially the social media, information and news spread very quickly and videos go viral in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, the situation got out of hand, and users are victims of a lot of misinformation on a daily basis. Actually, I'm one of those users and I read and watch fake news everyday, many times I am able to distinguish them from true ones, but sometimes I just get fooled. My strategy is to not spread any kind of information unless I'm sure at 100% it is true. Otherwise, I just keep it for myself and if I feel curious about it, I try to look for further and more detailed information.

Submitted by amir979797 on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 20:32

Permalink
who is the author?..sorry for the assignment

Hello amir979797,

I'm afraid I don't know the author of this particular text. We have a team of staff writers and also commission texts from other writers.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zhanerke on Thu, 07/01/2021 - 09:30

Permalink
I think there were many fake news about coronavirus. One of it tells us that Bill Gates came up with this pandemic because he wants to chip people over the world and control their minds. Adults really believed in this version and shared it to all relatives and friends on Whatsapp chats.

Submitted by Elham Barakat on Thu, 07/01/2021 - 05:28

Permalink
Every day or particularly every second, this fake news pops up in front of us. Many times I know it's fake from that I can't believe that happens. I ensure from other sites, or if I read it many times and from different sites. It is also trusted websites to ensure this information. I also don't share any news easily.