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Fake News: Separating Fact From Fiction

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources

There are four broad categories of news sources, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.

  • Category 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
  • Category 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information, or present opinion pieces as news.
  • Category 3: Websites which sometimes use hyperbolic or clickbait-y headlines and/or social media descriptions, but may otherwise circulate reliable and/or verifiable information.  
  • Category 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news.

No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.) Some articles fall under more than one category. It is up to you to critically evaluate your sources to determine if they are reliable or not.


A deepfake is a phony video that looks real. With the increasing advancements in computer performance and techniques, face swap superimposes a face onto the face of someone else in a video. The result is that anybody can be made to look like they love or hate anything. The video can be produced entirely by using actors, whose faces are replaced with a celebrity such as a movie star, politician or news anchor, and it appears very real to the casual viewer. See face swap.

As deepfake video techniques improve, there are onerous implications for the future. Videos are highly persuasive when they "supposedly" come from prominent people. Although computer analysis can likely determine a fake video even as they get more realistic, that detection is after the fact and after the damage is done. (Definition taken from PC Magazine Encyclopedia)