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Fighting Fake News: Examples of Fake News

Resist Fake News

When he was leaving office, President Obama commented on how fake news undermines democracy: "In an age where there’s so much active misinformation ― and it’s packaged very well, and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television ― where some overzealousness on the part of, you know, a U.S. official is equated with constant and severe repression elsewhere, if everything seems to be the same, and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect."

In fact, unverified claims - and the actions people might take as a result - can lead to devastating consequences. Whatever your political leanings, we should all fight for the facts and say no to fake news. Please note that we do not update this section of the guide on an ongoing basis, but you will still find examples of fake news from late 2016 and early 2017. For more up-to-date examples, consult our news feed on the first page of this guide.

Alternative Facts

There's no such thing as "alternative facts." There are facts, which Merriam-Webster states as "a piece of information presented as having objective reality," and there are things that are not facts. Falsehoods. Misconstruction. Lies. Read more about "alternative facts" and the Library's response below.

Voter Fraud

President Trump has repeatedly claimed that "millions" of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. The problem is, the administration has offered no proof of widespread fraud. Furthermore, voting experts continue to assert that the voter fraud is very rare.

Responses from the Press

Four Moves

Mike Caulfield has developed four moves for quickly evaluating whether or not news is fake. His examples may be especially useful in classroom activities.

The "Bowling Green Massacre" and other terrorism reports

The image, which was sent to us by another librarian, serves as an example of how some have pushed back against what the "Bowling Green Massacre" represents for journalism and facts.

Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway referred to the "Bowling Green Massacre" during an on-air interview on February 2, 2017, using it to justify the recent travel ban that targeted predominantly Muslim countries. Problem was, there's no such thing as the Bowling Green Massacre.  Conway claimed it was a slip of the tongue, but reports soon surface that she had used the made up example in previous interviews. 

Then, on February 6, 2017, President Trump claimed the media underreported terrorism attacks. This statement was quickly met with mounds of evidence proving the contrary. 

Read more about both instances below:


Investigations into ties between Russia and the administration are ongoing. Although the full implications are unclear, fake news has played a role in these events. Here are a few links to help you explore the issues.

The Enemy of the American People?

Fake news took a turn in mid-February when President Trump accused reputable media sources of publishing "fake news," primarily in response to ongoing investigations into possible connections between his presidential campaign and Russia. Then, on February 17, 2017, the President declared many major news outlets to be the enemy of the American people.

The following articles outline why these claims are especially worrisome in light of library values such as intellectual freedom and freedom from censorship, as well as the potential damage these claims can do to our democracy.

A note about the examples

On this page you'll find some examples of fake news & its continued effects. We update this section of the guide irregularly, so the examples aren't comprehensive. There are organizations and news sources that are tracking false statements, such as Politifact, as well as others, like Fact Check, which list sites that routinely post fake news. If you've got examples or suggestions we should consider for the guide, please email us.

On Polls

Which Polls Should You Believe?

As with all information sources, you need to look at poll data critically. Where did it come from? Who was polled? What methods were used? What might make you question its results?

Nate Cohn recently outlined some of the issues for interpreting election polls in a New York Times article, "The Savvy Person's Guide to Reading the Latest Polls." Or see "Harry's Guide to 2016 Election Polls" from 538/On the Media.

Find this and additional Breaking News Consumer Handbooks at On the Media's website.

In the news:

"Pollsters Scramble as Fewer People Take Their Phone Calls" Ryan Knutson in the Wall Street Journal.

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