There are four broad categories of fake news, 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
CATEGORY 3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
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 do the legwork to make sure your information is good.
A – authority: Who is the author or creator? What are their credentials or experience in this area? Have they written other articles or books? Does the author/creator have an agenda beyond education or information?
P- purpose/point of view: Is this source complete and accurate or does it leave out or misrepresent information? Are diverse perspectives represented? What evidence is presented of conclusions? Who is the intended audience? Is the content relevant to your information needs?
P- publisher: Does the publisher have an agenda? Is the publisher scholarly? Commercial? Nonprofit? Government? Educational?
L – list of resources: Does the source have a reference list or refer to other sources? How else can you verify the information in this source?
Y- year of publication: Is this source current and relevant? Can you find more current or relevant information? Is the cited information current or based on outdated research or statistics? Is this information routinely updated?
The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter is committed to promoting excellence in fact-checking. We believe nonpartisan and transparent fact-checking can be a powerful instrument of accountability journalism; conversely, unsourced or biased fact-checking can increase distrust in the media and experts while polluting public understanding.
The code of principles is for organizations that regularly publish nonpartisan reports on the accuracy of statements by public figures, major institutions, and other widely circulated claims of interest to society. It is the result of consultations among fact-checkers from around the world and offers conscientious practitioners principles to aspire to in their everyday work.
Some of the agencies who adhere to this code are listed below: