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Fake News

What is fake news? Why should you care? How can you avoid it? Find out all this and more, in the UVic Libraries Fake News Guide.

How to spot fake news

There are more than a few strategies that you can employ in your quest to recognize fake news. Different organizations, individuals, and campaigns have developed their own questions and considerations to help students and the public spot fake news. However they all share similar principles and steps to take, so pick the one that makes most sense to you.

MediaSmart's 5 W's

Use MediaSmarts' 5 W’s to recognize false online content. Ask yourself:

  • What kinds of false content should I watch out for?
  • Why is it being spread around?
  • Who is spreading it? Do they have a good track record for accuracy?
  • When did it start spreading?
  • Where else can I find out if something is real?


Mike Caufield’s SIFT outlines four moves to implement when evaluating a source for truthfulness. This method asks you to:

  • Stop: Before consuming a piece of news, consider where you have found this information. Also, reflect on your purpose for evaluating the source.
  • Investigate the source: Ask yourself who is producing this information and what their motivations might be.
  • Find better coverage: Reliable information will be available from more than one source. Look for one you know you can trust to see if they make the same claim, and/or determine whether multiple sources agree.
  • Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context: Does the source that you’re looking at tell the whole story? By tracing such information back to the original context, you can see what was left out and might have been reframed to fit a different narrative than was originally intended.

News Media Canada's SPOT

News Media Canada has a media literacy tool to help Canadians identify fake news. They urge you to “spot it and stop it in 4 simple steps.” Ask yourself:

  • Is this a credible source?
  • Is the perspective biased?
  • Are other sources reporting the same story?
  • Is the story timely?

IFLA's How to Spot Fake News

IFLA’s infographic on how to spot fake news suggests even more things to consider.


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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.