Author: trueinformer95

What are some fake news sites?

Unfamiliar with a new source? If it’s on this list, then it’s most likely fake news.

Looks real, but it’s not

These ones sound like a real newspaper, but they’re not!


These ones sound like they could be a legitimate news site, but they’re not

  • (Remember Pizzagate?)
  • (this site allows users to generate fake headlines)
A Story From BIZ News that was debunked by Snopes

Sites that are satire, but not everyone can tell by just a headline


More sources

Podcast of the Week: The BS Filter

Podcast of the Week: The BS Filter

This week, Decoding Disinformation recommends “The BS Filter.” Hosted by Cameron Reilly and Ray Harris, this podcast takes news stories and does a deep dive into the facts and history behind them. Most recently, they interviewed four people on the George Floyd Protests and gathered various perspectives on what’s been happening around the world.

They have also explored Covid-related 5G conspiracies and topics related to all sorts of current events in various countries.

While they are currently on a break, the protests and COVID-19 are very much in the news.

Here some reasons why people love this podcast:

Check it out on your podcast feed!

The Dangers of an Echo Chamber

The Dangers of an Echo Chamber

Have you ever joined a Facebook group where everyone had the same beliefs and opinions as you? It could be about anything, politics, religion or even vaccinations. It feels good to have people agreeing with you, but there is also a danger here.

The problem with being in an echo chamber is that members start to distrust any opinion that doesn’t align with theirs. This is different from an “epistemic bubble” in which members don’t even have exposure to different opinions. However, they are both dangerous.

“How to Avoid Being Trapped in an Echo Chamber”

An echo chamber encourages confirmation bias. This is a psychology term that describes people who seek out information that aligns with their opinions for the purpose of confirming what they already think. This exactly what an echo chamber does; it blocks other opinions from being considered.

Sometimes, we don’t even notice we are living in an echo chamber online. This is because social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter use algorithms that put users in groups they do not know they are in. After being put in these groups, users become exposed to ads and promoted articles that match their views and opinions, further enforcing the confirmation bias.

Does an 'echo chamber' of information impede flu vaccination for children?
An example of how an echo chamber influences decisions

Because of this, it is important to seek out diverse opinions, because what we see on our Facebook and Twitter feeds only represent what we want to see. It is also important to us fact-checking when presented with an article from an unfamiliar source. For tips on how to fact check, see our page dedicated to evaluating sources.

Weekly Picks: Fake News Podcasts

Weekly Picks: Fake News Podcasts

Did you know that Macedonia was a hotspot for fake news during the 2016 election? Where does fake news really come from? We found some great podcasts that outline the history and uses of disinformation in the media.

This week, Decoding Disinformation recommends this playlist of podcasts all about Fake News and disinformation.

Podcast Brunch Club theme: Disinformation and Fake News

You can find eight episodes from six different podcasts all about Fake News, as well as a Spotify playlist for songs about the topic.

Check back next week for more videos, podcasts and articles about disinformation and fake news!

A Quick Guide to Reverse Image Search

A Quick Guide to Reverse Image Search

If you have ever seen the show Catfish: The TV Show, then you are probably familiar with reverse image search. This tactic has uncovered many social media users posing as others or using a photo of someone else to hide their identity.

What is reverse image search?

Reverse image search is when an image is uploaded to the internet to see if any other websites have used the photo.

How do I reverse search an image?

Well, there are many ways. The easiest way to do this is to open Google Images and just drag a photo you have saved into the search bar. Then, all the places the image has previously appeared will show up.

How to Reverse Image Search with Google Chrome the Easy Way | OSXDaily

What does it mean if there are results?

This is a great opportunity to see the origin of this image. Perhaps it leads to a news site that is trustworthy. Perhaps the pages containing the image you searched lead to even more unverified information.

What if there are no matches?

If there are no matches, then try another method to verify this information. If you are searching a person’s photo to see if they are not posing as someone else, then this could be an indication they are who they claim to be, however it is not always the case.

Bot or Not? Identifying active and inactive accounts


Before drawing conclusions about accounts, it is crucial to verify them. When an account check has not been executed, it can have serious repercussions as seen in this CTV Edmonton report. The Canadian national broadcaster posted a tweet stating the a bot account had been promoting a political movement, which later proved to be a real account.

CTV article claimed an account was a bot when it was in fact a person who was actively using their account on Twitter.

In order to see if an account is active, there are many things you can do to check. Accounts that don’t update frequently or have not paid to renew their domain are some easy indicators. However, it is always good to go in depth to see if a person is who they say they are or a valid info source.

You can use these simple tips to verify if an account is managed by a real or fake owner:

  • Check bio – what are their credentials?
  • Tweets & replies – read through the replies to see their biases
  • Check if they share the same URLs/content
  • Following/followers – Another great way to check bias, however a follow is not always an endorsement
  • The original image/video and creator are most important to have – you won’t have to trace back if it’s the earliest version
  • Run a search before sending to a newsrooms/outlet
  • Compare metadata: what information is available about their account
  • Ask a person to send the photo/video directly from their phone or camera through text or email, always use an encrypted app
  • Think about the network 
    • Friends, followers, conversations, retweets, shares, likes
    • What their content is
  • Check when the account was created 
  • See if you can find other accounts 
  • Reverse image their profile photo
    • see the video below for tips on how to do this

How You Feel Can Impact What You Share

Written by Lauren Beauchamp with files from Associated Press

“Sensory neuroscience” is a phenomenon that has been around since humans have roamed the planet, but in our modern day worlds it can seriously impact the way we perceive things. When “Fake News” emerged, the mind saw things differently for many reasons. Studies explain how certain parts of the brain have adapted to focusing on emotionally stimulating events.

Dopamine, the hormone and neurotransmitter is linked with reward anticipation and result. In the news, when a subject we are introduced to is addressed, our brains recognise this as a reward, no matter whether the report is true or false.

Fake News & Memory

In fact, most of the fake news triggers a region in the brain known as the substantial nigra/ventral segmental area (SN/VTA), which is linked to the hippocampus and amygdala. These areas have a large impacts on both learning and memory. They trigger both memories and emotional links to them.

Brady and others’ study inspired by US Presidential election and the Arab Spring highlights that unverified information spreads easily by users who share something in common, such as a liberal or conservative group who share similar morals. When we see posts that align with our morals, we are more likely to share them even if they are not true.

Anger, a highly rousing emotion, tends to make one more likely to pass things on, while sadness is deactivating. Surprises can also stimulate the brain to react in a certain way, therefore causing someone to immediately hit ‘share’ when they haven’t cross-checked an article with any other sources.

A study published in Physiological Science showed that propaganda may result in false memories of events. The participants were shown news stories, two out of four untrue from the 2018 referendum on abortion in Ireland. About half of the people had a false memory of one of the events that did not actually happen.

There are fortunately news organisations such as Associated Press that have a Fact Checking teams which provides a weekly roundup of ‘Fake News’ and the facts to help uncover falsely spread information.

Fake news will use tactics and wording to incite the spread on social media. What can we do to make sure we don’t share disinformation when emotionally triggered? Head over to our list of tips to verify the sources of information here.

Investigating DisInformation on Facebook: Top Tools & Resources

Photo and video manipulation is one of the most common spreads of mis and disinformation, here you will find some tips and techniques on how to uncover the full picture behind them.

You may hear the word investigate and think of leading a Sherlock Homes-esque examination. Have no fear – it’s simple, straight-forward and free most of the time!


Facebook as one of the most widely used social media platforms, Facebook is an international arena for mis and disinformation spread. Though many users have good intentions, by simply pressing ‘share’ on Facebook, you can spread incorrect information to your friends, family, and even strangers.

A couple things to watch for on pages:

  • When the page was created
  • When the website domain page was created (check
  • Press on different users of the group 
    • Check group administrators’ profiles for suspicious activity
    • Be careful when opening links from unfamiliar sites
  • Cross-reference through other websites
    • Is this the only page reporting this?
  • Check the profiles of the people who like or follow this page 
  • Has the page liked by other pages/run by the same people?
  • Check related pages and linked groups
  • Read community reviews
  • Page Transparency box for manager locations

What to watch for on profiles:

  • What groups they’re a part of
  • Likes/comments
  • What content they are sharing 
  • Locations checked in/events
  • Look for relatives/family members with same surname

Investigating Websites: Five Tools & Resources

These are some simple, easy-to-use ways of getting to know what website you’re browsing on is about and where it’s come from.

Websites are intended to be sources of ready available information for all on the Internet. However, they sometimes are not as straight-forward as one would like to think.

There are many tools that you can use to inquire behind the data and identity of a website from the domain name itself (e.g. , to its metadata (its personal information).

  1. A very useful website is Wayback extension, which is an internet archive that finds earlier versions of website. You can add this as an extension to your Safari or Chrome browsers.

As mentioned above, many registrars offer the ability to act as proxy contacts on the domain registration forms, a service known as “WHOIS privacy”. In such cases, domains registered with WHOIS privacy will not list the actual names, phone numbers, postal and email addresses of the true registrant and owner of the site, but rather the details of the proxy service. While this can frustrate some WHOIS queries, the lookup tool is nonetheless a powerful resource for investigating a domain.

Many websites registration systems offer to act as ‘proxy contacts’ which are known as “Whois privacy” which put simply = central database + IP data. By doing this, privacy hides the real names, number, addresses and the information of the owner of the website in exchange for a proxy service.

2. Lookup tool is a powerful way to investigative a domain name.


This website takes free WHOIS/domain name searches. The registrant can be under a fake name but often the email address is real. As the IP address is the server that hosts the domain, this tool check verify the IP’s reputation – seeing who is on the same address. In this, an open proxy acts as the “middle man”, which means it does not encrypt information between users. In using this tool, we can find links or connections between corrupt domains.

4. DNSyltics is a pay-to-use service which connects websites together via Adsense, Google Analytics, etc. This service finds user analytics.

5. SpyonWeb analyses the web identity. 

Why Decode?

2020 has revealed that even trusted news sources are capable of spreading mis and disinformation. It is not obvious what the difference between the two is. Misinformation is what it sounds like and is unintentional, whereas disinformation is deliberately inaccurate information intended to deceive.

A global pandemic has triggered a massive spread of information on broadcast television and various digital and social platforms. According to the International Press Institute (IPI), Hungarian MP’s have passed a law that penalises the spread of misinformation of COVID-19 to up to five years in prison. IPI’s data shows that many central and eastern European governments have been using the health crisis as an excuse to tighten control over information, which is another issue. We are constantly receiving threads of messages from sources such as friends, family, co-workers and social media, which are now more widely used ways to get information.

Let’s not forget about a 26-minute video called Plandemic, that spread debunked theories and unproven claims about COVID-19 like wildfire around the internet. Large platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Vimeo had to remove it and now it can not be easily found and shared online. Thanks to the spread of this video, many people believe that the use of masks could cause a person to contract the virus.

It’s up to us as social media users to be skeptical about articles and videos from unfamiliar sources.

Here a few things Decoding Disinformation wishes to answer:

  • Which information is coming from where?
  • How can I find out if I’m being shared dis or misinformation/what is the difference?
  • Where can I acquire my information?
  • How can I do fact-checking myself?

Decoding disinformation is here to make your life as a receiver of information a little less challenging and overwhelming. By providing you with tools, resources and an online community, you will be a gatekeeper and fact-checker in no time.