How to spot fake news: what's real and what's not

Fake news.

You really didn't hear about it until two years ago. After the 2016 election, the term has exploded, especially on social media and it's left people wondering what’s real and what's fake.

“Fake news is when someone is intentionally putting out misinformation to try and fool people,” said Jon Marshall.

Marshall teaches at the Medill School at Northwestern, where the traditional tenants of journalism are stressed to students. But he says when it comes to reporting the facts, times have definitely changed.

“More people can put anything that they want up, and circulate it, and then it can circulate very quickly and very wide to a vast audience,” Marshall said.

So how do you spot fake news?

”There’s hundreds of them, and new ones pop up all the time,” said Mana Ionescu, president of Lightspan Digital.

We took an example of fake news out of Aurora and had social media expert Mana Ionescu point out how she could tell it was fake.

“This particular article is a textbook example. They've thrown everything that would catch your attention in it,” she said.


“The first thing I noticed here is there are all these sponsored links, all these ads,” Mana said.

She also points to the fact that no dates or links appear in the article, and a click on the author's bio takes you nowhere.

“Are there any resources quoted? Are they giving the names, the titles of these folks or what makes them an authority?” Mana said.

So why are people posting fake articles? The big reasons are they want your info and cold hard cash.

“They want our traffic so they can sell ads, and, in the worst case scenario, they're trying to install malware and trying to get into your computer,” Mana said.

Still not sure about what's real or fake? Help is a click away.

“, and they have a section that's all about fake and satirical websites,” Mana said.

Or just take this advice: “It's up to us as people who read things and watch things to take a second, and look at what we're seeing, and figure out, is this really believable? Because if it seems unbelievable, there's a good chance it's not real,” Marshall said.