False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources

Tips for analyzing news sources:

  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo (Newslo is now found at Politicops.com). These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
  • Watch out for common news websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources (remember: this is also the domain for Colombia!)
  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue. Thanks to Ed Brayton for this tip!
  • If the website you’re reading encourages you to DOX individuals, it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.
  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Sources such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
  • For more tips on analyzing the credibility and reliability of sources, please check out School Library Journal (they also provide an extensive list of media literacy resources) and the Digital Resource Center.

OpenSources Steps for Analyzing Websites:

Step 1:  Title/Domain Analysis. If words like “.wordpress” or “blogger” are in the domain that usually signifies it’s a personal blog rather than a news source. If slight variations of well known websites appear, such as “.com.co,” this is usually a sign that the website is fake version of a source. However, remember that foreign reputable news organizations may have these country-specific domains.

Step 2: About Us Analysis. I usually google every title/domain name/anyone listed in the “About Us” section to see if anyone has previously reported on the website (snopes, hoax-slayer, politifact, factcheck.org, etc.) or whether it has a wikipedia page or something similar detailing its background. This is useful for identifying and correctly interpreting lesser known and/or new websites that may be on the up-and-up, such as satirical sources or websites that are explicit about their political orientation.

Then I look for information about the credentials and backgrounds of affiliated writers (is it a content mill or do they pay their writers?), editors, publishers, and domain owners (who.is etc.). It’s also useful to see if the website has a “Legal” or “Disclaimer” section. Many satirical websites disclose this information in those sections.

A total lack of About Us, Contact US, or any other type of identifying information may mean that the website is not a legitimate source of information.

Step 3: Source Analysis. Does the website mention/link to a study or source? Look up the source/study. Do you think it’s being accurately reflected and reported? Are officials being cited? Can you confirm their quotes elsewhere? Some media literacy and critical scholars call this triangulation: Verify details, facts, quotes, etc. with multiple sources.

Step 4: Writing Style Analysis. Does the website follow AP Style Guide or another style guide? Typically, lack of style guide may indicate an overall lack of editing or fact-checking process. Does it frequently use ALL CAPS in headlines and/or body text? Does the headline or body of the text use words like WOW!, SLAUGHTER!, DESTROY!? This stylistic practice and these types of hyperbolic word choices are often used to create emotional responses with readers that is avoided in more traditional styles of journalism.

Step 5:  Aesthetic Analysis. Like the style-guide, many fake and questionable news sites utilize very bad design. Usually this means screens are cluttered with text and heavy-handed photoshopping or born digital images.

Step 6: Social Media Analysis.  Look up the website on Facebook. Do the headlines and posts rely on sensational or provocative language-- aka clickbait-- in order to attract attention and encourage likes, clickthroughs, and shares? Do the headlines and social media descriptions match or accurately reflect the content of the linked article? (this step isn’t particularly good at helping us find fake news, but it can help us identify other misleading news sources)

By considering all of these areas of information we can determine which category or categories a

website may occupy, although all categorizations are by necessity open to discussion and revision.  

Website Labels for OpenSources.co:

Fake News (tag fake): Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.  

Satire (tag satire): Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.  

Extreme Bias (tag bias): Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts.

Conspiracy Theory (tag conspiracy): Sources that are well-known promoters of kooky conspiracy theories. Ex: 9/11 conspiracies, chem-trails, lizzard people, birther, flat earth, flouride, vaccines as mind control etc.

Rumor Mill (tag rumor): Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.

State News (tag state): Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction.

Junk Science (tag junksci): Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.

Hate News (tag hate): Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.

Clickbait (tag clickbait): Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, OR questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.  These sources may also use sensational language to generate interest, clickthroughs, and shares, but their content is typically verifiable.

Proceed With Caution (tag unreliable): Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification or to be read in conjunction with other sources.

*Political (tag political): Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.  

*Credible (tag reliable): Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information).

Unknown (tag unidentified): Sources that have not yet been analyzed (many of these were suggested by readers/users or are found on other lists and resources). Help us expand our resource by providing us information!

Note: Tags like political and credible are being used for two reasons: 1.) they were suggested by viewers of the document or OpenSources and circulate news 2.) the credibility of information and of organizations exists on a continuum, which this project aims to demonstrate. For now, mainstream news organizations are not included because they are well known to a vast majority of readers.

Working Website List for OpenSources.co:

The below list of websites is a combination of my original list in this google document, numerous other lists on the internet, and suggestions from readers/internet users. All tagged websites have been analyzed by myself or one of the librarians I’m working with on OpenSources. All websites tagged as “unknown”  still need to be analyzed, and some of them may be removed entirely from the resource for various reasons (i.e. it doesn’t circulate “news” or the website no longer exists). Finally, please remember that all tags may be subject to revision based on feedback, discussion, continued analysis, or website changes etc.

Current count: 1001

Google Spreadsheet Version                                          

 

url

type

2nd type

3rd type

Link active?

100percentfedup.com

bias

16wmpo.com

fake

21stcenturywire.com

conspiracy

24newsflash.com

fake

24wpn.com

fake

365usanews.com

bias

conspiracy

4threvolutionarywar.wordpress.com

bias

conspiracy

70news.wordpress.com

fake

82.221.129.208

conspiracy

fake

aanirfan.blogspot.co.uk

unreliable

abcnews.com.co

fake

abcnewsgo.co

fake

abeldanger.net

conspiracy

abovetopsecret.com

conspiracy

rumor

abriluno.com

satire

fake

aceflashman.wordpress.com

satire

actforamerica.org/news

hate

Acting-Man.com

unreliable

conspiracy

activistpost.com

conspiracy

actualidadpanamericana.com

satire

addictinginfo.org

clickbait

unreliable

adflegal.org/media

hate

adobochronicles.com

satire

advocate.com

political

reliable

aheadoftheherd.com

bias

ahtribune.com

unreliable

bias

allnewspipeline.com

unreliable

conspiracy

Alt-Market.com

conspiracy

bias

alternativemediasyndicate.com

fake

alternet.org

political

reliable

americablog.com

bias

clickbait

americanborderpatrol.com

hate

americanfreepress.net

conspiracy

bias

AmericanKabuki.blogspot.com

junksci

americanlookout.com

bias

clickbait

americannews.com

fake

americannewsx.com

political

bias

satire

americanoverlook.com

fake

americanpatriotdaily.com

bias

clickbait

bias

americanpoliticnews.co

fake

americanpresident.co

fake

americanprogress.org

political

reliable

americanreviewer.com

conspiracy

americanthinker.com

bias

americantoday.news

rumor

bias

americasfreedomfighters.com

bias

clickbait

AmmoLand.com

bias

amplifyingglass.com

clickbait

satire

Amposts.com

fake

amren.com

hate

conspiracy

amren.com

hate

amtvmedia.com

rumor

unreliable

amusmentic.com

clickbait

rumor

ancient-code.com

junksci

unreliable

anews24.org/

fake

angrypatriotmovement.com

conspiracy

fake

anonews.co

unreliable

anonhq.com

unreliable

anonjekloy.tk

fake

anonnews.co

unreliable

anotherdayintheempire.com

bias

conspiracy

antiwar.com

bias

unreliable

antoniusaquinas.wp.com

bias

conspiracy

aryannationswordwide1488.org

hate

asia-pacificresearch.com

unreliable

satire

assassinationscience.com

conspiracy

junksci

associatedmediacoverage.com

satire

attn.com

political

clickbait

aurora-news.us

fake

AutomaticEarth.com

unreliable

automotostar.com

clickbait

awarenessact.com

conspiracy

junksci

awazetribune.com

satire

awdnews.com

conspiracy

awm.com

unreliable

bias

clickbait

BadSquad.com

unknown

baptistnews.com

political

barenakedislam.com

hate

barnesreview.org

hate

BB4SP.com

conspiracy

bias

fake

beehivebugle.com

satire

beforeitsnews.com

fake

conspiracy

rumor

betootaadvocate.com

satire

bients.com

clickbait

bigamericannews.com

satire

fake

bigbluedimension.com

rumor

bias

bigbluevision.com

hate

bigbluevision.org

clickbait

bias

bighairynews.com

fake

conspiracy

bignuggetnews.com

bias

rumor

bigpzone.com

unknown

bipartisanreport.com

clickbait

bias

blackagendareport.com

unreliable

blackgenocide.org

conspiracy

bias

hate

blackinusrancenews.com

fake

unreliable

blacklistednews.com

clickbait

unreliable

bluenationreview.com

clickbait

unreliable

Boilingfrogspost.com

unreliable

borowitzreport.com

satire

bostonleader.com

fake

bostontribune.com

satire

fake

breaking911.com

clickbait

unreliable

breakpoint.org

unreliable

breitbart.com

political

unreliable

bias

BrotherJohnF.com

bias

conspiracy

BullionBullsCanada.com

conspiracy

burrardstreetjournal.com

satire

buzzfeedusa.com

fake

rumor

bvanews.com

unreliable

bias

fake

callthecops.net

satire

canadafreepress.com

conspiracy

bias

cannasos.com

fake

unreliable

cap-news.com

fake

cato.org/blog

political

reliable

cbsnews.com.co

fake

celebtricity.com

satire

centerforsecuritypolicy.org

bias

conspiracy

centerforsecuritypolicy.org/#articles

hate

channel-7-news.com

fake

channel18news.com

fake

charismanews.com

bias

chaser.com.au

satire

checkoutthehealthyworld.com

junksci

clickbait

chicksontheright.com

clickbait

bias

christianfightback.com

hate

bias

christianpost.com

reliable

political

christiantimesnewspaper.com

rumor

bias

fake

christwire.org

satire

chronicle.su

satire

chroniclesmagazine.org

political

citizensunited.org

bias

city-journal.org

political

cityworldnews.com

fake

civictribune.com

fake

clashdaily.com

fake

conspiracy

bias

clickhole.com

satire

cnnews3.com

fake

cnnnext.com

unreliable

CNSNews.com

unreliable

bias

coasttocoastam.com

unreliable

coed.com

fake

unreliable

collective-evolution.com

junksci

collectivelyconscious.net

junksci

conspiracy

ComingDepression.com

unknown

commentarymagazine.com

political

commondreams.org

political

clickbait

concisepolitics.com

conspiracy

hate

consciouslifenews.com

junksci

conservapedia.com

bias

conservativebyte.com

fake

bias

conservativedailypost.com

fake

unreliable

conservativefighters.com

fake

conservativefiringline.com

bias

conspiracy

clickbait

conservativeflashnews.com

fake

conservativefrontline.com

unknown

conservativeheadlines.com

unknown

conservativehq.com

bias

conservativeinfidel.com

fake

conspiracy

conservativeoutfitters.com

unreliable

clickbait

conservativepapers.com

bias

conservativerefocus.com

conspiracy

conservativereview.com

political

conservativespirit.com

bias

fake

conservativestate.com

bias

conservativetribune.com

bias

conspiracy

unreliable

consortiumnews.com

reliable

conspiracyplanet.com

conspiracy

conspiracywire.com

conspiracy

corbettreport.com

conspiracy

bias

corbettreport.com

conspiracy

countdowntozerotime.com

conspiracy

countercurrentnews.com

bias

countercurrents.org

political

unreliable

counterinformation.wordpress.com

political

counterjihad.com

bias

counterpsyops.com

conspiracy

counterpunch.com

political

counterpunch.org

political

cowgernation.com

bias

conspiracy

creambmp.com

satire

fake

creativitymovement.net/category/news/

hate

cryptogon.com

conspiracy

unreliable

crystalair.com

satire

dailybuzzlive.com

fake

dailycaller.com

political

clickbait

bias

dailycurrant.com

satire

dailydiscord.com

satire

dailyheadlines.com

fake

dailyheadlines.net

fake

dailyinfobox.com

fake

dailyken.com

hate

dailykos.com

political

clickbait

dailyleak.org

satire

fake

dailynews10.com

fake

dailynews5.com

fake

dailynewsbin.com

bias

clickbait

dailynewspolitic.com

unknown

dailynewsposts.info

fake

dailyoccupation.com

conspiracy

bias

dailypolitics.info

unknown

dailypoliticsusa.com

bias

dailysignal.com

bias

dailysnark.com

satire

dailysquib.co.uk

satire

dailystormer.com

hate

conspiracy

bias

dailysurge.com

fake

dailytelegraph.com.au

bias

rumor

dailyusaupdate.com

fake

dailywire.com

bias

damnleaks.com

fake

dandygoat.com

satire

darkmoon.me

hate

bias

darkpolitricks.com

bias

conspiracy

dataasylum.com

conspiracy

junksci

DaveJanda.com

unreliable

davidduke.com

hate

davidstockmanscontracorner.com

political

davidwolfe.com

conspiracy

dcclothesline.com

conspiracy

junksci

dcgazette.com

fake

dcleaks.com

unreliable

ddemocraticunderground.com

fake

DeadLineLive.info

political

conspiracy

DeadlyClear.wordpress.com

bias

fake

debunkingskeptics.com

bias

conspiracy

defenddemocracy.press

bias

political

delectabledietofpics.net

unknown

N

dennismichaellynch.com

political

denverguardian.com

fake

departed.co

fake

departedmedia.com

fake

der-postillon.com

satire

derfmagazine.com

satire

dineal.com

junksci

disclose.tv

satire

conspiracy

disclosuremedia.net

conspiracy

dissentmagazine.org

political

diversitychronicle.wordpress.com

satire

DIYhours.net

fake

DollarVigilante.com

bias

donaldtrumpnews.co

fake

DonaldTrumpPotus45.com

fake

Dont-Tread-On.Me

conspiracy

downtrend.com

fake

satire

DProgram.net

unknown

N

drrichswier.com

hate

bias

drudgereport.com

political

bias

drudgereport.com.co

fake

duffleblog.com

satire

duhprogressive.com

satire

Dutchsinse.com

conspiracy

EagleRising.com

bias

clickbait

EbolaHoax.com

conspiracy

N

economicnoise.com

political

unreliable

ecowatch.com

political

educate-yourself.org

conspiracy

junksci

educateinspirechange.org/health

clickbait

junksci

electionnightgatekeepers.com

conspiracy

unreliable

elelephantintheroom.blogspot.com

bias

elitereaders.com

clickbait

elkoshary.com

satire

elmundotoday.com

satire

embols.com

fake

Empirehearland.com

fake

empireherald.com

fake

satire

empirenews.net

fake

satire

empirenews.net

fake

empiresports.co

satire

empiresports.co

satire

Emptywheel.net

political

en-vovle.com

fake

enabon.com

fake

endingthefed.com

bias

endoftheamericandream.com

conspiracy

fake

political

endtime.com

bias

clickbait

political

enduringvision.com

fake

english.ruvr.ru

unknown

enhlive.com

fake

EUTimes.net

hate

conspiracy

eutopia.buzz

fake