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Media Literacy and Fact-Checking: Home

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Citizen Literacy

Media Literacy and Fact Checking


Image of Stop sign. Text reads stop. think.









Stop and Think by DWRose. CC-BY-2.0



Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act on all type of media responsibly. Fact-checking is an important part of evaluating and analyzing information that comes through news and other media. "Fast news" and social media make it very easy to both send and receive information. From deliberate disinformation campaigns to viral misinformation, one of the most effective things you can do to prevent the spread of so-called "fake news" is to stop and evaluate information before sharing. Follow the steps in this guide using the tabs across the top for fact-checking strategies and guides to evaluate news. 

What is "Fake News"?

"Fake news" is a widely-used term that can range from satire to misunderstandings and deliberate disinformation campaigns to information that is unpleasant. The term is not new: it was used in the New York Times at least as far back as 1894. There are several types of "fake news," which can be grouped in three broad categories:

  • Disinformation: Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organization, or country.
    • "Troll Factories" like the Internet Research Agency, and bots that promulgate disinformation fall into this category
  • Misinformation: Information that is false but not created with the intention of causing harm
    • Satire, often shared without the understanding that it's satirical, falls into this category
  • Mal-information: Information that is based on reality, used to inflict harm on a person, social group, organization, or country

The good news is that all of these types of bad information can be addressed using the strategies offered in this guide!

For more detailed reading on this subject, try 

For presentations from the University Libraries on the role of fake news in different settings, see

Ask your librarian!