How to avoid fake news articles

If you've ever been on Facebook, chances are you have encountered a fake news article.

For example, according to Vox, websites claimed the pope endorsed Donald Trump, a Democratic operative was murdered after agreeing to testify against Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton raped a 13-year-old girl. All of those stories are completely fabricated, but went viral on Facebook.

On Saturday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement claiming false information spread on his social media website did not influence the outcome of the presidential election, calling it a "pretty crazy idea."

Just two days later, both Facebook and Google announced new policies to prevent fake news sources from buying advertisements on those websites.

There's clearly a problem, and it can be hard to detect false information.

These fake news websites are designed to look like real news websites, and they are often shared by verified people or fan pages on Facebook.

Here are a few steps you should go through before sharing news from a source that specifically supports one political party, or comes from a website you have never heard before:

1. Check the source against other sources.

If the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC or AOL.com have not posted about the particular subject, chances are the story has not been verified.

Also note that hyperpartisan sources, or websites that cater to a particular political affiliation, are constantly sharing false information, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation.

2. Use a fact-checking website.

My favorite is Snopes, but Factcheck.org will also do the trick. Simply search the website's database to see if the rumor has been debunked.

3. Take a closer look at the website.

If the site has a basic style or looks like a personal blog, you'll need to dig deeper. Make sure that there are plenty of other posts on the website, and that it wasn't just recently created.

4. Check the date on the post.

Fake news websites like to republish old stories to try to trick you into taking interest over and over again, according to USA Today.

5. If the headline is outrageous, take time to read the article.

Sometimes news outlets use nuggets of truth that have been distorted to spark outrage and trick readers into clicking into their content. These are especially dangerous because sensational stories tend to trend much faster than straightforward ones, according to Vox.

6. The website matters more than the person who shared it.

You might see a public figure you trust share a story, but they could have fallen for fake news as well. Chances are, if the Facebook post includes a plea to "the media" asking why they haven't covered the story yet, it's because verified media passed over a false story.

7. Try this Chrome extension.

A group of four young students built an browser add-on that will classify stories as verified or non-verified.

8. Check the source against this list of websites.

Melissa Zimdars compiled dozens of false, misleading, satirical and clickbaiting websites here, if you ever have any doubt.

See what people are saying about fake news:

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