Avoiding the Pitfall That Is Fake News

By Admir Durakovic

Don’t fall into the fake news trap.

Paul Dunphy, a research and instruction librarian at the Giovatto Library, held a workshop on avoiding fake news. The only student in attendance was this reporter. That didn’t stop Dunphy from sharing his advice. 

“Fake news was never a problem before the internet, because we all we had were newspapers,” Dunphy said. 

The rise of social media as a source of news has diluted everyone’s feed. Everyone has a platform to tell their side of a story and to put on their own spin.

“When you’re reading the news and something hits you. If it sounds too good to be true or highly improbable, check it. All you have to do is to go to a reputable source, like The New York Times,” Dunphy said.

Dunphy also had a tip for any potential writers in attendance.

“Always know your source and where you’re getting your information from,” Dunphy said. “You have to keep checking your sources, because somebody will call you out on it. 

Even when you’re writing papers for your class, you should make sure they are properly recorded.

Dunphy and the Giovatto Library shared a list of tips to follow to avoid falling for fake news.

  • If a news story looks legitimate, check other news sources to see if the story is carried there too.
  • If a news story seems unlikely, check it against a reliable source.
  • If a news story overly dire or scary, check it against a reliable source.
  • If a news story is based on a survey, statistic, or poll, check the source to see if it is reliable.
  • Check the website – click on “about us” or “who we are” to get more information on the source.
  • Check the URL – sometimes a different extension or a minor difference in spelling will indicate an unreliable, unscrupulous, or satirical website.
  • Check the URL – a typo or misspelling can take you to an entirely different website.
  • Try to get your news from a variety of sources you know to be reliable. If you know one or more additional languages, try to get your news from those perspectives as well.


FDU Library
Paul Dunphy is the head reference librarian at the Giovatto Library

Photo by Admir Durakovic