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

Discussion

Download
Worksheet62.91 KB

Language level

Average: 4.1 (65 votes)
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.

Submitted by Safe_Mode on Sun, 24/03/2024 - 09:19

Permalink

I think it's now enough to spot fake news, nowadays. Trustful inform agencies can post fake news, too, because of not enough deep fact check. Some news look like true sometimes and before someone recognize that it's fake, it could already make the damage. Today, in current political environment, there are extremely much fakes that sometimes approved and posted by huge media like BBC or NY Times. You need more time to check all facts and recognize is this article a fake or not. The people majority often don't do that because of the time's lack.
P.S. Do you have any lessons about punctuation in English?  

Hello Safe_Mode,

At them moment we don't have any lessons specifically on punctuation, I'm afraid.

There are some useful pages on the Cambridge English website:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/punctuation

https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/learning-english/activities-for-learners/b2w005-full-stops-and-commas

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ddddsky on Fri, 09/02/2024 - 09:54

Permalink

For Task 1, I still don't understand why the answer is B (Experts share top tips for resisting fake news). Why is the D answer (Tips on how to read the news online) wrong?

Hi ddddsky,

Answer D says "how to read the news". "The news" is a more general topic than "fake news" and it potentially includes not only fake news but other types of news too. Since this article is all about fake news (rather than the news in general), that's why B is a better answer than D.

I hope that helps to understand it.

Jonathan 

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Toan3002 on Fri, 05/01/2024 - 16:34

Permalink

Well, I have read many unreal news stories on social media. Honestly, I don't worry about fake news. You should check the source and watch out before reading that news on any non-official websites.

Submitted by pikanov on Thu, 02/11/2023 - 00:47

Permalink

I've ever read fake news or stories on social media. It usually comes from political issues to release black campaigns to another political enemy.

Submitted by Noctuarn on Tue, 31/10/2023 - 15:09

Permalink

Thank you for the lesson. I'm from Ukraine, and when the russian military started its invasion in my country, there was a lot of fake news on the internet. Honestly, it was possible to believe almost anything at that time because of the panic and fear that all my people felt.

Submitted by Mahsaa on Fri, 27/10/2023 - 14:12

Permalink

Fake news websites often use addresses that sound like real newspapers, but don't have many real stories about other topics.
What is the meaning of ''address" in the sentence above?

Hi Mahsaa,

Thanks for your question! This refers to the URL, the internet address of the website. 

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by betelf on Sun, 22/10/2023 - 17:45

Permalink

Yes, I've come across fake news stories online before, but not anything too serious. I'm worried because I appreciate technology, which allows us to access a lot of information easily, but the problem is getting worse due to false information.