How To Spot Fake News
“Fake news” used to be a relatively uncommon problem, but over the last decade, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing consumption of news and articles has caused misinformation to run wild.
Far from a new concept, misinformation and cherry-picked stories have been used throughout history as a form of propaganda or information warfare. However, the rise of social media as a hub for sharing articles has spread “fake news”—false or misleading information presented as legitimate news—all over the internet.
Fueled further by increasing polarization, as well as the use of the term by former U.S. President Donald Trump to also refer to negative coverage (whether legitimate or misinformed), it seems more difficult than ever to separate trustworthy from misleading sources.
With this in mind, we combined guidance from non-profit journalism project First Draft News and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to create this guide for understanding “fake news” and how to spot it.
The Different Types of “Fake News”
In order to spot fake news, you have to know the many forms misinformation can take.
Not all fake news is created equal, or even with the intent to deceive. Some start as opinions or jokes that become misunderstood, twisted over time, and eventually turn into misinformation. Others begin with the sole purpose of deception.
Online Misinformation From Least Intentional to Most
Articles or videos created to mock or laugh at an issue. If created without being an obvious parody, these types of articles can still fool readers and be shared as “real.”
- False Connection
Stories with headlines, visuals, and captions that don’t support the content. Sometimes the cause is an honest mistake or poor journalism, but other times the false connections are deliberate to draw more attention.
- Misleading Content
Misleading use of information to frame an issue or individual, especially one not involved in the story. This can be caused by poor journalism or political influence, but is also caused by opinions being shared as news and the increasingly blurring line between the two.
- False Context
Genuine content that is shared with false contextual information, such as an incorrect date or a misattributed quote. This type of misinformation can still appear on news sites with poor fact-checking or opinion-based reporting, but is clearly driven by an agenda with an attempt to influence.
- Imposter Content
When genuine sources are impersonated in order to deceive the audience. Though this type of misinformation is used in parody, it is also used for profit and propaganda purposes, such as by sites disguised to look like news organizations or using fake credentials.
- Manipulated Content
The deliberate manipulation of information, such as digitally altering an image or making up quotes. This type of misinformation is easily proven fake with some research, but can spread too far before it is fact-checked.
- Fabricated Content
Newly created false content designed to deceive and do harm. These include deepfake videos and sites posing as legitimate news organizations.
Despite many types of misinformation appearing to be obvious at a glance, it’s harder to discern when browsing online. In a 2019 global survey on social media by Ipsos, 44% of people admitted to being duped by fake news at least once, while others may have been duped unwittingly.
How To Tell If An Article is “Fake News”
With many types of misinformation to contend with, and trust in media organizations falling in the U.S. and around the world, it might seem like you’re surrounded by “fake news,” but there are a few things you can check to be sure.
- The Source
Investigate the site to make sure it’s legitimate, and check its mission and its contact info to understand if it’s news, satire, or opinion.
- The URL
Be wary of unusual top-level domain names, like “.com.co” that are designed to appear legitimate, such as ABCnews.com.co.
- The Text
Does the article have spelling errors or dramatic punctuation? This can be an easy find for simple fabricated content, as most reputable sources have high proofreading and grammatical standards.
- The Information
Read past click-baity headlines, note who is (or isn’t) quoted, and verify the information on other sites. This is also a good way to separate opinion pieces from news.
- The Author
Check the author’s bio and do a quick search on them. Are they credible to write about their story? Are they real?
- Supporting Sources
Click on the supporting links, and perform reverse searches on images. Do they actually support the story, or are they irrelevant (or worse, manipulated).
- The Date
Sometimes older news stories are shared again and gain traction because of current events, but that doesn’t mean they’re relevant or accurate.
- Your Bias
Especially with the rise of opinionated journalism and websites profiting from polarization, consider the intended audience for this story and if your own beliefs could affect your judgement.
- The Experts
If a story feels flimsy, or doesn’t seem to be properly cited, consider asking an expert in the field or consulting a fact-checking site.
More than anything, consider that outrageous misinformation has an easier time spreading on the internet than boring real news. An MIT study found that false stories on Twitter were 70% more likely to get retweeted than accurate news.
But armed with knowledge about what “fake news” looks like, and with increased pressure on news organizations, the tide can be turned back in the favor of accurate news.
Mapped: The Top Trading Partner of Every U.S. State
At the national level, Canada and China are top U.S. trading partners. While this generally extends to the state level, there are some surprises too.
The Top Trading Partner of Every U.S. State
The U.S. is highly dependent—perhaps unsurprisingly—on Canada and Mexico for trade. The country’s top trading partner is Mexico, making up 14.8% of total trade.
However, the country’s neighbors to the north and south are not the only trade partners that U.S. states rely heavily upon. This map from HowMuch.net uses flags to show which country each U.S. state is importing the most from. Below, there is an additional graphic showing where each state is exporting the highest amount of goods and services to.
Who are the States Importing From?
The U.S. has a few natural and obvious trading partners, whether due to geographical closeness or strong economic ties.
The obvious candidates for top trading partners have already been mentioned, Canada and Mexico—and these two do show up at the state level as well. For example, Michigan gets 40.9% of its imports from Mexico, and Montana receives a whopping 87% of its imports from Canada.
Some other interesting trade partnerships stand out, like the Carolinas and Germany. Trade ties between Hawaii and Japan also make sense for historic reasons.
|State||Top Country||Total State Import (Millions USD)||Share of Total State Imports|
|Alaska||🇰🇷 South Korea||$836||35.0%|
|District of Columbia||🇨🇦 Canada||$74||13.7%|
|New Hampshire||🇨🇦 Canada||$1,394||20.1%|
|New Jersey||🇨🇳 China||$14,302||12.4%|
|New Mexico||🇨🇳 China||$1,493||32.6%|
|New York||🇨🇭 Switzerland||$33,126||21.5%|
|North Carolina||🇩🇪 Germany||$9,208||15.1%|
|North Dakota||🇨🇦 Canada||$1,781||62.3%|
|Puerto Rico||🇮🇪 Ireland||$9,062||42.7%|
|Rhode Island||🇩🇪 Germany||$1,525||17.3%|
|South Carolina||🇩🇪 Germany||$6,220||15.5%|
|South Dakota||🇨🇦 Canada||$428||33.9%|
|Virgin Islands||🇵🇹 Portugal||$174||27.7%|
|West Virginia||🇨🇦 Canada||$1,025||35.2%|
However, one country in particular stands out on this map—China.
While the USMCA trade agreement has created an easy gateway for necessary goods and services to flow across North America, no country—not even the U.S.—can escape the need for mass imports from the world’s top exporter.
China and the U.S. have an imbalanced trade relationship, with China buying much fewer goods from the U.S. than the U.S. buys from them. In fact, China’s monthly trade surplus with the country sat at $31.8 billion as of May 2021.
Who are the States Exporting to?
After looking at the top import partners by state, let’s dive in to where the U.S. states are exporting the most.
One thing that is noticeable is that China shows up much less on this map, further exemplifying the trade imbalance. In other words, while many states’ top import partner is China, they are not reciprocating as the country’s top export partner.
The only states that export their largest shares to China are:
- Oregon – 38.1%
- Alaska – 25.5%
- Washington – 22.1%
- Alabama – 18.1%
- Louisiana – 18.1%
The majority are exporting to their North American neighbors. For example, North Dakota sends 84.6% of its exports just across the northern border.
|State||Top Country||Total State Export (Millions USD)||Share of total State Exports|
|New Hampshire||🇩🇪 Germany||$751||13.8%|
|New Jersey||🇨🇦 Canada||$7,229||19.0%|
|New Mexico||🇲🇽 Mexico||$2,197||59.5%|
|New York||🇨🇦 Canada||$13,773||22.3%|
|North Carolina||🇨🇦 Canada||$5,881||20.7%|
|North Dakota||🇨🇦 Canada||$4,388||84.6%|
|Puerto Rico||🇳🇱 Netherlands||$2,889||17.2%|
|Rhode Island||🇨🇦 Canada||$410||17.1%|
|South Carolina||🇩🇪 Germany||$4,082||13.5%|
|South Dakota||🇨🇦 Canada||$524||38.0%|
|Utah||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||$8,906||50.3%|
|Virgin Islands||🇳🇱 Netherlands||$90||15.2%|
|West Virginia||🇨🇦 Canada||$1,283||28.1%|
Trade Going Forward
The trade war that started during the tenure of former U.S. president Donald Trump is still ongoing and tariffs set by the U.S. are not expected to be lifted by president Joe Biden, as tensions have expanded beyond just trade issues.
These tariffs, however, have not helped to rectify the significant trade imbalance between the two countries. The states are still extremely reliant on imports from China, and it is not a reciprocal relationship.
Ranked: The Richest Veterans in America
There are over 18 million living veterans in the U.S., but how many are ultra wealthy? This visual ranks the richest veterans in America.
Ranked: The Richest Veterans in America
The U.S is home to 724 billionaires, many of whom have taken on immense risks in the financial world. 16 of these wealthy individuals have also taken on the risks that come with serving in the U.S. military.
These veteran billionaires are worth a collective $81.4 billion and have served in posts ranging from Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) to infantrymen in the Second World War. This visual, using data from Forbes, ranks the richest living American veterans.
This visual categorizes the individuals by either the military branch or war served in depending on what was applicable or determinable.
I Want You for the U.S. Army
According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, there are around 18 million veterans in the U.S. Of these 18 million, less than 0.01% can claim the title of billionaire.
|Name||Net Worth (Billions, USD)||Industry||War / Unit Served|
|Donald Bren||$15.3||Real Estate||Marine Corps|
|Edward Johnson III||$10.3||Finance & Investments||Army|
|Ralph Lauren||$7.1||Fashion & Retail||Army|
|Richard Kinder||$7.0||Energy||Vietnam War|
|Charles Dolan & family||$6.1||Media & Entertainment||WWII, Airforce|
|Fred Smith||$5.7||Logistics||Vietnam War, Marine Corps|
|Charles B. Johnson||$4.9||Finance & Investments||Army|
|Ted Lerner & family||$4.8||Real Estate||WWII|
|Julian Robertson Jr.||$4.5||Finance & Investments||Navy|
|John Paul DeJoria||$2.7||Fashion & Retail||Navy|
|H. Ross Perot Jr.||$2.7||Real Estate||Airforce|
|Bob Parsons||$2.2||Technology||Vietnam War, Marine Corps|
|David H. Murdock||$2.1||Food & Beverage||WWII|
|S. Daniel Abraham||$2.0||Food & Beverage||WWII, Army|
|Charlie Munger||$2.0||Finance & Investments||WWII, Army Air Corps|
|George Joseph||$2.0||Finance & Investments||WWII|
Six of the above veteran billionaires served in WWII. They are some of the last surviving veterans of the historic war which was fought by 16 million Americans—today, only around 325,000 WWII veterans are still alive.
George Joseph, of Mercury Insurance Group, piloted a B17 Bomber plane in WWII, and completed around 50 missions. Warren Buffett’s business partner at Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger, served in the Army Air Corps in the early 1940s.
Richard Kinder (Kinder Morgan Inc.), Fred Smith (FedEx), and H. Ross Perot Jr. (Hillwood Investment Properties) each served in the Vietnam war.
One notable figure, Ralph Lauren, whose name is synonymous with his clothing products, served in the Army branch for two years in the early 1960s.
Taking on Financial Risk
Billionaire wealth continues to grow in America. Most of these veteran billionaires saw their net worths increase from 2020 to 2021, as, typically, wealth begets wealth. Here’s a look at the changes in net worth of the top five richest veterans who experienced increases:
- Edward Johnson III: +$4.9 Billion
- Ralph Lauren: +$1.4 Billion
- Richard Kinder: +$1.8 Billion
- Charles Dolan & Family: +$1.5 Billion
- Fred Smith: +$3.0 Billion
The majority of these veteran billionaires are in the finance industry and some are tied to well-known companies, but they didn’t always have billions on hand to help them exponentially grow their fortunes.
David Murdock was a high school dropout, and after serving in WWII, had no money to his name. He took over a failing company called Dole, and eventually gained the moniker of ‘pineapple king’ after reviving the business.
S. Daniel Abraham, who was an infantryman in WWII, went on to found Thompson Medical. Their main product was Slimfast, which he later sold to Unilever for $2.3 billion in cash in the early 2000s.
Bob Parsons, who received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, started out his professional career as a CPA. He later founded the enormous domain giant, Go Daddy. He has claimed that his time in the military helped him succeed in business.
Peace and Prosperity
We currently live in one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in history, with wars like WWII feeling to many like a story from the past — but for others these conflicts were defining moments for their generation.
While many veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life, on average pre-9/11 veterans have reported fewer difficulties compared to post-9/11 veterans, and some have even managed to reach the highest levels of financial success.
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