Skip to main content Lee College Library

TRiO Workshop -- Fake News: What is fake news?

Conspiracy theories, hoaxes, fake news, oh my!

Fake News:  a catch-all term to describe media stories that intentionally mislead readers into believing false information. Today, the term frequently has a political connotation.

Conspiracy theories:  explanation of a set of events that involves powerful people with dubious motives controlling the events for their own purposes.

Hoax:  an attempt to trick others into believing something happened or is true that is false, and often ridiculous.  

How do you know?

Why would someone do this??


  • State actors:  some countries actually maintain "troll factories" of workers whose job is to create misleading or untrue internet content designed to damage their political enemies.
    • Russia in the U.S. 2016 election
    • China uses "50-centers" to create propaganda for their own people 
    • Great Britain created a fake news radio broadcast for the Germans in WWII
  • Corporations:  some companies may put out false or misleading information about their competitors to gain market advantage
  • Politicians:  like corporations, politicians sometimes use fake news to smear their opponents


  • Bad actors may try to sell you a solution to a fake problem
  • "Clickbait:" outrageous headlines to lure people to open a website
  • Your attention is valuable:  websites charge advertisers based on the number of people who view the site


  • Lists of information about people are bought and sold
  • Sites may ask for your name, email, phone number or other personal information
  • Sites may collect information about you without your knowledge
  • Worst case scenario: the site may infect your computer with a virus or install spyware

Real News

You'll never believe what happened next! Click on the picture for the REAL news!

Click Bait



  1. (on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page:
    "these recent reports of the show's imminent demise are hyperbolic clickbait" ·
    "a clickbait article"