How do you know what’s ‘fake news’?

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How do you know what’s ‘fake news’?




Fake news GIF

POLITICO Illustration

The term “fake news” has become a cudgel for political leaders trying to discredit reporting, but disinformation – false content created explicitly to deceive or misinform – runs rampant online.

Just last week, a study out of George Washington University found that a vast majority of Twitter accounts that spread disinformation in 2016 remained active this year.

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The month leading up to the midterm elections will likely see a proliferation of false information spread under the guise of news in an effort to sway voters.

POLITICO is undertaking an ambitious effort to identify and trace the origins of political disinformation and debunk it.

Scouring the internet and contributions from the public, POLITICO will carefully examine potential pieces of disinformation. If an item fits our parameters for fakes, we will report on our findings in this publicly accessible database.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Impostors: These are websites or social media users that falsely masquerade as known, reliable news sources.
  • Hoaxes: These are bogus or fabricated reports and claims intended to pass for the truth.
  • Doctored or manipulated content: These are visuals that have been deliberately distorted to misinform.

Here’s what we’re not looking for:

  • Satire: These are erroneous reports created for comical effect.
  • Opinion and commentary: These are pieces that convey an individual or group’s viewpoint, not purported facts.
  • Unpopular reporting: These are reports that are factually accurate – or at least strive to be – but whose content, framing or tone readers may disagree with. There are plenty of excellent fact-checking sites; we’ll leave it to them to sort out whether these reports are fair.

How you can help:

Reports flagged by users, along with those identified by POLITICO staffers, will be vetted and, if deemed appropriate, added and categorized into our public database of disinformation.

Send us any reports, websites or social media posts that you suspect may be disseminating disinformation through this form here.

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