Verifying Online News - Introduction

Most of us turn to online sources for news, whether it’s reading a newspaper online or sharing a news story with our friends and family. But news stories are one of the hardest things to verify: sometimes early reports that turn out not to be true still circulate on social media and people may spread false reports for political or commercial reasons, or just for “fun.”

Thanks to the Internet and social media, we often hear about news a lot sooner than we would have a generation ago. That’s because the first person to learn about a news story can tell everyone they know, right away – and they can tell everyone they know – and pretty soon everybody’s heard the news. But if something in one of those stories is wrong – or the whole story is false – that misinformation can spread just as quickly. Sometimes misinformation can be more “viral” than the truth: for example, in the 2016 U.S. election, false news stories were more widely spread than real ones.[1] That’s why it’s important to pause for a moment when you’re about to pass a news story or some other urgent information on to your friends, and to make sure that it’s accurate and up-to-date.


1] Silverman, Craig. “Real News on Facebook.” BuzzFeed, November 2016. <>