Media Matters has this to say: "information that is clearly and demonstrably fabricated and that has been packaged and distributed to appear as legitimate news. This narrow definition seeks to distinguish fake news from other types of misleading information by clarifying that the former is patently false and was created and presented in a way meant to deceive consumers into thinking it is real. Fake news refers to a specific piece of information; it does not refer to any particular type of news outlet, individual, or other actor."
For more definitions, check out the Word Definitions tab of this guide.
The C.R.A.P. Test can help you analyze information that you find online.
As you browse Google, Facebook, or elsewhere on the internet, consider these questions:
Is the information you are reading current and timely? How can you tell?
Where did you find this information? Who published it?
Sometimes the appearance of website can give you clues as to whether or not the site is trustworthy -- for example, some fake news websites (such as nytimes.com.co) use deceptive tricks such as copycat URLS (note the “.com.co”) to mimic the urls of popular websites (nytimes.com).
It is important to remember that appearance isn’t everything: polished or otherwise seemingly reputable websites can also peddle misleading, biased, or fake information.
Who is the author (or authors) of this information? What are the author’s credentials?
Is the author qualified to write about the topic? If you are not sure, try doing a Google search to see what you can learn about the author or the website that has published the information.
Why was this information created?
To inform, entertain, or persuade? Is the article “clickbait" that is intended to generate ad revenue for its authors?