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Fast Fact: Fake News

Fake News means “news” stories that are supposed to be real, but are really not true. Fake news stories have been around for many years, but they have become more common as more people depend on the Internet and social media   for news.

Fake news on the Internet is usually not just untrue. It’s also often unexpected and surprising. When people read “news” like this, they often want to share it. The people who share the stories may not know that the stories are lies.

Some ideas for ways to spot fake news.
Some ideas for ways to spot fake news.
(Source: IFLA, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Fake news can be shared through a website or through social media. There can be many reasons why a person or a group might create a fake news story. Sometimes people make fake news to get money. One person who runs fake news websites says he earns over $10,000 a month from selling ads on his sites.

More often, fake news is meant to change people’s minds about something or someone. For example, during an election, bad fake news about a person running for president might change the way some people vote. In the US election for president in 2016, Russia paid over 1,000 people to spread fake news.

Fake news can look very real. People can change pictures to make it look like someone has done something that they did not do. Videos can also be changed or put together in a way that makes it easy to believe something that is not true.



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