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How do I recognize fake news? - Helpful tips for fact-checking

Check facts

Most of the fake news these days is spread via social media. If a message appears suspicious to you, the first thing you should do is enter the keywords into a search engine:

  • Will the news also be spread through other, larger media?
  • Do other media provide additional information that changes something in the fundamental matter?
  • How up-to-date is the news - is it about events that allegedly have just taken place or has an old message been boiled up again?

There are now many journalistic offers that help identify and refute fake news. These include the fact finder from, the research collective Correctiv or special sites such as or

Social media have also recognized the problem. Facebook, for example, appeals to users themselves: They can report suspected fake news and have it checked for correctness by an external provider. Contributions from large national media that have been classified as trustworthy by many people are to be displayed more prominently to users in the future.

Check source

If the internet research has not yet provided final clarity, it is advisable to take a closer look at the author of a message.

  • How long has they been active on Twitter or Facebook and what has they written so far?
  • Do the articles published so far make sense and appear credible?
  • Who and how many people shared the posts?
  • Does the Twitter account have a blue verification tick?
  • How many friends or so-called followers does he have?

If it is a new profile with only a few followers, you should be careful. It may not be a real human at all, but a robot computer program that independently composes and forwards messages ("social bot").

If posts link to websites, you should take a close look at them. In Germany, websites must have an imprint. They provide information about the originator of a message. You shouldn't trust a page without an imprint.

Fact check ...

1. ... with a website: "Fact Finder" is an ARD project. A research team from ARD searches online networks and uses the fact finder to explain to users how to identify fake news and check authors.

2. ... with a video: "Recognizing lies on the Internet". Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) has developed a video tutorial with which you can unmask fake news in three steps. It belongs to the BR series "So geht Medien", which trains the media skills of young people and teachers.

3. ...with a quiz: "SWR fakefinder". The surface is reminiscent of Facebook, with a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" the player can classify a message as fake or true. In addition, the fake finder provides an explanation for each example with practical tips on how to recognize a false report.

4. ... with a search engine: On one can search for headlines. If these have already been investigated by the "Mimikama - First Think, Then Click" education association for truth, the Google links to the corresponding website with the corrections will be displayed.

5. ... with an app: "Fake News Check". The "Fake News Check" developed in cooperation with the Lower Saxony State Institute for School Quality Development (NLQ) can help schoolchildren to identify fake news on the Internet. The app does not automatically recognize fake news, but rather it should help to ask important questions and to learn to differentiate between fake news and real news through guided reflection. In this way, the app is intended to raise general awareness of the critical handling of news.

6. …with the appropriate teaching materials: The Lower Saxony Ministry of Culture has teaching materials on the subject "Fake News and Social Bots in the Digital Age " created. The teaching materials have been developed for use in year 10 of the lower secondary level I / BBS as well as for the upper secondary level and are each divided into three thematic modules that deal with the following topics:
- Assessment of known sources and promotion of source criticism
- being misled by manipulation and falsehoods on the internet as well
- extremist content on the net

Review pictures and videos

Pictures and videos can also be fake. With pictures it is often the case that the pictures are real, but have been placed in a wrong and meaning-distorting context. This is where the Google image search helps: It can show where and in what context the image was published for the first time.

Checking videos is a little trickier. It is now possible to put different words into the mouths of politicians in a video clip. You only need three ingredients: an original video of the politician; another person whose face can be filmed while talking; and a corresponding computer editing program that combines both.

If you are not sure whether a certain YouTube video is genuine, you can enter the link to the video in a special search engine operated by Amnesty International. It works like a reverse search and finds out whether there are possibly similar videos that are in a different context or cut differently.