To spot bad and misleading information, ask yourself these three simple questions:

  1. Where’s it from?
  2. What is missing?
  3. How do you feel?

Where’s it from?

A trusted source is your safest option.

If you don’t know the source, check out the about page or ask yourself why they’re sharing the story.

If there’s no source, search for one.

You can search for images to find out where they’ve been seen before or search for the story to see where it started.

If it doesn’t look right, be careful.

False news can be hidden on websites made to look like the real thing. Look for the little clues: phony URLs, bad spelling, or awkward layouts. On social media, check their handle to verify the name matches.

What’s missing?

Get the whole story, not just a headline.

One click can help you spot false news. Read the whole story and watch out for images, numbers, and quotes that don’t have sources or that might have been taken out of context.

Images and videos can be faked.

False news stories often contain images or videos that have been changed. Even real images can be made to look like things they’re not with a false date or caption. Videos can be edited or the voices can be changed - check for the original.

Check what other people say.

Check out the sources they give. See what trusted news sites or fact checkers are saying - breaking news is quickly picked up by different news sources. In an emergency, look for the official emergency services.

How do you feel?

People who make false news try to manipulate your feelings.

They know that making you angry or worried means they’re more likely to get clicks. If it’s winding you up, stop and think about how you could check it before you share.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Hope can be used to manipulate us too. Most of the time, the miracle cure doesn’t exist.

Don’t be the one who doesn’t spot the joke.

Sometimes jokes and satire online aren’t obvious. Funny or outrageous details, the way it’s written, or the site it’s on might give it away.

Fact checking online

From checking out images to understanding polling, these guides will help you spot misinformation and find the most reputable information online.

  • How to spot misleading videos
    Whether they are edited, completely false or labelled misleadingly, we look at the main ways you can find the source.
  • How to spot misleading images
    It can be hard to spot fake images, but our guide sets out how to reverse image search, check pictures against what you already know and check the quality.
  • How to spot misleading headlines
    Here we share a case study of a misleading headline and the importance of reading the whole story to understand what’s going on.
  • How to spot misleading poll figures
    Polling is everywhere these days and we suggest some ways you can check how good a poll is - such as the size of the survey, the questions asked and accuracy of the data - to understand what the results actually mean.
  • How to spot misleading crime reporting
    Crime figures can be confusing - so use our guide to understand the difference between police recorded crime and crime survey data.

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Find fact checkers near you

International organisations verified by The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN):