Fake news is defined by a disregard for facts and a willingness to make up stories.
A fake news story may be entirely made up, mix true facts with lies, or take facts out of context and purposefully misrepresent them.
Fake news exists on both extremes of the political spectrum.
Fake news and biased news are not always the same thing.
A news source can have either a liberal or conservative bias and still be reputable.
Any reputable news source employs trained journalists and editors who follow a code of ethics and do their best to ensure the information they publish is reliable. This is what people mean when they talk about 'mainstream news media.'
Reputable conservative and liberal news sources may interpret facts differently because of their biases, but neither side makes stuff up.
While most biased news is not fake, most fake news is extremely biased.
It is meant to reinforce people's existing beliefs and make them mad.
Tips for avoiding and identifying fake news
Seek out the news, don't just let it come to you.
Fake news spreads through social media. Instead of relying on it for your news, choose one or two reputable news sources to follow.
If a story makes you mad, double check it.
Fake news is often meant to outrage people. Pick a couple mainstream sources from the infographic to the right and see if they are covering the story. If not, it is probably fake.
Know your own bias/political leanings.
It's fine if your main news source supports your own views (as long as it is reputable), but it is also good to see how a reputable source that leans the other direction deals with the same issues.
Learn some tricks for identifying fake news stories.
I like this article because it is short and has 6 good tips, but there are more sources listed to the right.
Image created by Vanessa Otero. Her Facebook post provides a detailed description of the image and why she created it.
This free ebook, written by a instructional technology expert, covers everything from viral photos, to Twitter, to major newspapers. Most of the chapters are only 1-3 pages long and include screenshots that show you exactly how to fact check things yourself.
This nonpartisan, nonprofit organization is dedicated to investigating the truthfulness of political statements. They publish articles, but also run a Ask FactCheck service where people can submit stories they have heard for review.