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Fake News

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Fake news has been defined information created and shared to deceive and mislead audiences for personal, political or financial gain. Although, many have only recently become familiar with the term following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, it has been around for centuries, the first account being used by King James the second in 1688. Other historic examples include; Piltdown man (1912) about the missing link between apes and humans, this was proved to be fake in 1953, The Cottingley fairies (1917), an image published in the Strand magazine, two cousins admitted to the hoax in 1920 and the death of Paul McCartney (1969). ‘Fake news’ was the most commonly used term in 2017. However, the UK prefer the term ‘disinformation’.

With the reducing cost of setting up and running a website there has been an increased ease in spreading fake news, the Cranecross review has found that more than 50% of adults about being exposed to fake news on social media but 24% of adults do not know how to spot an article based on fake news. This is very dangerous as falsehoods reach the social media of more people than the truth, in fact it takes the truth six times as long to reach over 1000 individuals who had already seen the false information.

So, if you ever find yourself questioning the validity of an article, there are 4 simple questions you can ask yourself:

1. Authority- has the source provided accurate information in the past?

2. Independent corroboration- Do other sources corroborate the original information

3. Plausibility and reasons for claim- Is the headline believable based on your own understanding?

4. Presentation- Is grammar correct? / Is the desire to sell>the desire for truth.

Fake academic journals- they exist! A common example being ‘International review of Law and legal jurisprudence studies’.  Collectively, they are known as pseudo-journals and they look very similar to the journals you would use to cite your essays which could consequently lead to you failing an assignment. So, here is what you should look out for:

· Constant spelling mistakes.

· Low resolution images.

· Few statements about the copyrights of authors.

· Few policies about retractions of articles and plagiarism.

· Rapid publication is promised.

· Contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (,

If you are still unsure there is a website that you can use to help you decide whether or not to use the article in question: for more information.

The best way to avoid pseudo-journals is to use a multidisciplinary database such as ‘web of science’, ‘Scopus’ and/or subject specific databases such as Psychinfo, Lexis and Medline.

Quote of the week: ‘Become conscious of being conscious.’ ~ Eckhart Tolle.