Guide to Spotting Fake News and to Dealing with it on Quora


How can I properly detect and effectively expose misinformation?
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Michael Gottardi,

Holyoke Community College has an excellent page on evaluating web resources here:[1]

As a graduate, you can contact the Alumni Relations Office: to see how one of the College Library staff might be able to help you personally if you have questions.

I have also written guides on this for Quora users which some are finding useful:[2][3]

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Barbara Young Capalbo,

  • RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM. Understand that the internet’s various social media accumulate information from all sources. All posts are given equal weight. What happens to that information once posted is up to the media platform (Quora, Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc.) and YOU.
  • KNOW YOUR INFORMATION BIASES. What you see in the world depends on how you see it. Understand how and why you react and what triggers your emotions. Commentators featured by the internet information silo where you spend most of your time often present a single point of view. Monitor your internet behavior. Poke your head out of your information silo every once in a while for a breath of fresh air!
  • LEARN HOW TO IDENTIFY LIES. Gossips and rumormongers sometimes unwittingly spread lies. They are misinforming you. Propagandists spread lies for a political purpose. They mean to mislead you with disinformation campaigns. Regardless of the poster’s motivations, lies are lies! Learn how to distinguish facts from lies.
  • WHEN YOU SEE BIAS, LIES, ETC. SAY SOMETHING! Growling and grumbling to yourself gets you ulcers. Avoid upset. Let others know what you have discovered. ON QUORA, respond to “questions” that are actually statements by:[1]
  1. answering the question. Try (though this may be hard in many instances) to respond as respectfully as you can. Do not engage in name-calling or disparage the character of the person who asked the question.
  2. using the pencil icon to edit the topics for the question. On the original question, you can (as of now) both add appropriate topics and delete those which do not apply.
  3. clicking the “Report” option on the drop-down menu generated when you click (….) to report the “question” to Quora moderators as “insincere.” If Quora mods agree, they will likely add the caution note shown in yellow below. More rarely, Quora mods may also delete the question or leave it as is. Do not expect to hear back from the mods directly. By the way, in extreme cases, you can also report the offending questioner by clicking their name to go to their profile, then clicking (…) next to their name for the drop-down menu. If they respond by with insult or toddlers’ name-calling, BLOCK their ability to communicate with you directly by clicking those (…) on their profile and selecting “block.”
  • PERSIST. You are not alone. There are many here on Quora and on other platforms who have your back. On Quora, they will upvote your answersedit topics and file reports when they see something, too. Your efforts may be a mere skirmish in a much larger battle, but they are very important and will be effectual.
  • CARRY ON! Look on the bright side. As Gen. Colin Powell used to say, optimism is a force multiplier![2]



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Nicole Kennedy Ahoneftos,

First things first:


  • Reliable sources CAN BE IDENTIFIED. Sources with vague identities or way-too-clever names should be ignored. Occasionally, sources cannot be pinned down at all. Always look for the source. For instance, blogs run by individuals or groups are notorious for their sketchy identities.
  • Circular citations or looped sources are a giveaway that the post you are reading is using a CHAIN of CITATIONS that each refer to the other in an endless loop of deception and tedious propaganda. [Thanks for the tip from Daniel Gage!]
  • College web sites usually have something of interest to say on this topic. Here’s an example from Cornell University:[1]
Introduction to Research
Research needs and requirements vary with each assignment, project or paper. Although there is no single "right" way to conduct research, certain methods and skills can make your research efforts more efficient and effective. If you have questions or can't find what you need, ask a librarian . Choosing and developing a research topic Suggestions for finding a topic Discuss your ideas with your course instructor. Discuss your ideas with a reference librarian. Look over the index and the article titles in a specialized encyclopedia that covers a relevant subject area or discipline. Identifying a topic State your topic idea as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about Title IX (Title Nine) and women athletes in college athletic programs, you might pose the question, "How did Title IX impact women athletes in college athletic programs?" Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question. These are potential search terms. In this case they are "title ix," "women," "athletes," and "college athletic programs". Testing the topic Before you commit to a specific topic for your research, do a scan to make sure that your topic isn't completely covered in another paper; at the same time ensure that there is enough information available to complete the project. This can be particularly important if you are planning on using data in your research. If in doubt, ask your professor. If you are finding too much information and too many sources, narrow your topic. For example: "women and athletes and college and athletics". Finding too little information may indicate that you need to broaden your topic by using a more general term or terms in your search. Finding background information Once you have identified the main topic and keywords for your research, find one or more sources of background information to read. These sources will help you understand the broader context of your research and tell you in general terms what is known about your topic. They will give you an idea of how much and what kind of information is available on a given topic. Encyclopedias and dictionaries: You can find subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries by using the Library Catalog or by asking a reference librarian. For authoritative information on your topic, you can also consult our list of Dictionaries and Encyclopedias online or our guide to online encyclopedias for the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and science and engineering. Exploit bibliographies: Often there are scholarly articles that give an overview of research in specific fields (a review of the literature). The sources cited in the bibliography are good starting points for further research. Look up these sources in the Library Catalog . Check the subject headings listed in the subject field of the online record for these books and journals. Then do subject searches using those subject headings to locate additional titles. Top Finding books, articles, and other materials How
  • Be wary of information “silos.” It is easy to be led around by the nose on the web. Sites are designed to capture and keep your attention. Are you on a suite of sites that all have the same philosophical/political outlook or present only one side of an issue? If so, it’s time to leave for more neutral territory, at least for a while!


  • Sensational, is it? Does it catch your eye as something extraordinary? Bear in mind that the sensational breakthrough or startling revelation is RARE. Yes, it is something that will attract your attention, but why? Be on the lookout for nefarious motivations.
  • Product advertising is usually pretty obvious. Sometimes it is disguised as ordinary text, or here on Quora as just another answer, but usually it is deliberately distinctive.
  • Propaganda or political indoctrination, however, is deliberately camouflaged. Obscured behind clever names, groups promote agendas using many deceptions.

From: [2]

  • Once again, colleges have web sites that deal with this:[3]                                                 Happy, informed reading!

Photo by Kayla Velasquez on Unsplash; modified by author.



Thanks for your interest in this topic!




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