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Evaluating Research: Fake or Real?

Determining if News Aources are Reliable

During the 2016 Presidential Election, many people became aware of the proliferation of fake news websites. It is important to be able to identify if a news source is real or fake, and beyond that, if the source is well-researched and well-argued; this is important not just for determining what sources to use in your assignments, but also as you seek out news and information to be an informed citizen. The links and resources below will help you discern real vs. fake news sources.

From NPR: "Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts"

This NPR article offers suggestions for how to determine if a site is publishing real or fake news:

  • Pay attention to the domain and URL
  • Read the "About Us" section
  • Look at the quotes in a story
  • Look at who said them
  • Check the comments
  • Reverse image search

Read the full article for more on each of these points, and check out the information on this page for how to conduct a reverse image search.

Check that Headline!

There are numerous reputable websites where you can check the veracity of a news story, viral video, meme, etc. We've included links to a number of them below. When a story goes viral and you see it on social media, it's always worth checking it on one of these sites to make sure it hasn't been debunked, before sharing it yourself.

How Reliable

While this is an imperfect chart, it is a good illustration of the range of sources that you will encounter when reading information on the internet.  You will want to carefully evaluate all of the information you find on the web.  Sources in the middle of the chart, are the most reliable, while the outliers are the least reliable.  In general, The New York Times, NPR and CNN  are much stronger sources than InfoWars, Breitbart and the Daily Caller. 

If you have any questions, the reference librarians are always available to discuss evaluation, and any other questions you might have. 


How to Do a reverse Image Search

One of the best ways to fact-check the many memes you'll encounter online is through a reverse image search. This can also be useful for images in news articles that seem to be fake. For instance, the day after the election there a news story circulated saying that the KKK were parading on a bridge in North Carolina. A reverse image search of the image in that story revealed that the individuals were Trump supporters, but were not wearing KKK garb. You can read more about this story at the link below.

To conduct a reverse image search for news stories such as the example above:

  • Open a tab and visit
  • Right click on the image you want to search. In Google Chrome, you'll select "copy image URL"; In Microsoft Edge, select "Copy Picture"; and in Firefox, select "Copy Image Location."
  • Click on the camera icon on Google Images. You have the option to "Paste Image URL" or "Upload an Image"
  • Enter the URL you copied into the "Paste Image URL" search box, and hit enter or click "Search by Image."

This will provide you with links to pages that have used this image. From here, you can assess the websites using the image and decide if they are credible.

Debunking the viral "KKK Trump Supporters" image:

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