Pretty much everyone should (hopefully) be aware that The Onion is a satirical newspaper at this point. But what about other sites that seem legitimate, or even pretend to be legitimate, but are just cranking out fake news for clicks? To help guide internet users through a vast sea of fake or clickbait-y news sites, Merrimack College communication and media professor Melissa Zimdars has compiled a thorough list of fake, misleading, and satirical news sites. You can read the list in full here.
In her introduction to the list, Zimdars writes, "Below is a list of fake, false, regularly misleading, and/or otherwise questionable “news” organizations, as well as organizations that regularly use clickbait-y headlines and descriptions, that are commonly shared on Facebook and other social media sites. Many of these websites rely on 'outrage' by using distorted headlines and de-contextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits."
The list includes far right sources such as Breitbart (whose former executive chairman, Stephen Bannon has been tapped by president elect Donald Trump to serve as his chief strategist), Infowars, and Red State, as well as intentionally satirical and comedic sites like The Onion, Reductress, and Cracked.
Here are some of the more frequent offenders you may have seen on your feed:
- The Blaze
- Crooks and Liars
- Daily Wire
- The Free Thought Project
- The Independent Journal Review
- Occupy Democrats
Noting that some might disagree with Zimdars' decision to include satirical sites on the list, she directs readers to the site Literally Unbelievable, which catalogs instances where readers react to satirical news or headlines, not realizing that the stories are fictional.
Zimdars also included media literacy tips to help readers determine quickly whether or not a site is the real deal, or if they're just trafficking in fake facts and outrage. Among other ideas, Zimdars says not to trust sites with the word "lo" (e.g. Newslo) in their names, and also to be wary of sites that end in ".com.co." Zimdars also advises readers to check multiple mainstream news sources to see if the same story and facts are published there, especially if a story makes a reader feel "really angry."
Publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and public radio station NPR are sources that Zimdars says she reads and trusts. Overall, Zimdars writes, "The best thing to do in our contemporary media environment is to read/watch/listen widely and often, and to be critical of the sources we share and engage with on social media." Read the full list of offender sites here.