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The year 2016 saw the kind of election cycle that experts in politics and journalism will study for many decades to come. One of the biggest things to come out of the election was the notion of fake news. Fake news isn’t a new thing; it’s been around as long as most in the media can remember. What is new, however, is the intense amount of attention it has drawn, in particular from the government.

So how is the average person supposed to figure out what fake news is, what it looks like, and how to read between the lines if you will? Not only that, is fake new truly as abundant as many would make it seem? Let’s examine it a little closer.

What is the Definition of Fake News?

In order to understand how to spot it, it’s important to clarify what fake news means. For anyone currently enrolled in an online masters in political science, this is probably a huge point of debate and discussion. Some of the country’s most prestigious schools, such as George Washington University, offer the online degree in political science and they’ve had to work fake news into the curriculum.

Fake news is now a term in the urban dictionary and has really propelled to the forefront of today’s issues and problems. The president himself has made the claim that fake news is occurring at least a few times a week.

Fake news is news reported by the mainstream media that doesn’t have any truth to it. It can involve a hoax or misinformation and is usually deemed to be deliberate. Fake news can appear in print, on news websites, on social media, the television, and on the radio. Fake news has the intention of misleading or misrepresenting the content.

How to Spot Fake News

For many people, the biggest issue is spotting the fake news. Many of these pieces can appear factual and real, which means people can be misled relatively easy. With the mid-terms set to happen in 2018, those in the political field are working hard to expose fake news as it happens so as not to interfere with next year’s election results.

As far as how to spot it, you’ll want to make sure that you are getting your news from trusted sources. These should be sources that verify their content and back it up. If you think a story has a fake news quality to it, then it’s a good idea to do some research on your own. Can you find information that helps to back it up, or does the story contain a lot of holes?

Is Fake News Common?

This is a hard question to answer. In a nutshell, it is definitely more common than it was many years ago, but at the same time, it may not be quite as abundant as some would like you to think.

If any lesson can be learned by fake news, it’s that people need to question where they are getting their information from and not be afraid to ask for second opinions and sources.