Special Report: Beware of Fake News

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We look at what's fueling the flames and how popular social media sites are fighting back. (WPVI)

From Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump for President to a Hillary Clinton supporter running down her husband for voting for Trump, this election season was ripe with false news headlines.

In this special report, we look at what's fueling those flames and how popular social media sites are fighting back.

In journalism, the truth is tantamount to trust. But in a hyper-segmented world of online news sharing, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction.

Action News went on the streets of Philadelphia to ask, 'Where do you get the majority of your news?'

"I would say mostly from Facebook," said Lisa Sadowski of Northeast Philadelphia.

Frank Causey of Willow Grove agreed, "Actually yes, Facebook."

"I'm always on Facebook, always," said Cindy Sulpizio of Philadelphia's Rhawnhurst section.

Avi Silverberg of Warminster, Pennsylvania said, "Mostly Google News."

And they are not alone. A survey done by the Pew Research Center reveals 62% of adults in the U.S. get news on social media, particularly Facebook.

But as we found with this election season, not all the news stories making headlines are real.

"There are things going around on Facebook, Twitter, all of that, that's definitely like 'why are you posting this?' It's false," said Kaylee Colelli of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

Phony headlines can be enticing, with some even saying it swayed the election in Donald Trump's favor.

"We have hundreds, thousands, millions, infinite sources of information coming from everywhere," said Geoffrey Baym of Temple University.

That is why it can be so hard to decipher what is real and what is fake.

Example Headlines:

Actor Matthew McConaughey Endorses Trump
Hillary Clinton Cancels Rally Due to "Lock Her Up" Chants
Michelle Obama Deletes Hillary Clinton from Her Twitter Account
Ivanka Trump Disavows Her Father


All of the examples are salacious and all are fake news.

A few days after the election, a Twitter user sent Action News a video clip claiming it showed black men beating up a white man who voted for Trump.

Some had assumed this took place in Philadelphia, and implored the station to expose the assault. The incident actually happened in Chicago and stemmed from an argument over a car crash.

"I think we all have to be critical thinkers," said Baym. "Posts can move incredibly quickly."

The seriousness of the issue even caused comment from President Barack Obama.

"If we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda then we have problems," Obama said.

Action News reached out to Facebook and Google, and both companies said they are taking steps to address the problem of fake news sites spreading misinformation. The internet giants plan to ban phony news sites from purchasing lucrative display ads, unless the sites publish facts.

"They've discovered that this platform is being used for purposes that don't fit the way they envisioned the site working," said Baym.

In the meantime, you need to do your homework. We have posted a partial list to watch for at the end of this article.

"You just have to double check what you are reading because everything on the internet is definitely not valid," said Colelli.

Feel free to discuss this topic further on Matt O'Donnell's Facebook page.

ONLINE:

Fake News Watch

USA Today College - Viral List of Fake News Sites

Indy 100 from Independent - Professor Makes a List of 'Fake' or 'Misleading' News Websites

Newsy - Don't be Fooled by Fake News on Facebook



Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of Media and Communications at Merrimack College, collected these websites she deemed "false, misleading, clickbait-y, and/or satirical news sources:"

100PercentFedUp.com
EnduringVision.com
PakAlertPress.com
21stCenturyWire.com
FPRNradio.com
PoliticalBlindSpot.com
70news.wordpress.com
The Free Thought Project
PoliticalEars.com
Abcnews.com.co
GeoEngineeringWatch.org
Politicalo
ActivistPost.com
PoliticusUSA
Addicting Info

GovtSlaves.info
PrisonPlanet.com
AmericanNews.com
GulagBound.com
PrisonPlanet.tv
AnonNews.co
HangTheBankers.com
Associated Media Coverage
HumansAreFree.com
ProjectVeritas
BeforeItsNews.com
Being Liberal
IfYouOnlyNews
React 365
BigAmericanNews.com
Indecision Forever
RealFarmacy.com
BigPZone.com
IJR (Independent Journal Review)
Bipartisan Report
InfoWars
RedFlagNews.com
BizPac Review
Infowars.com
Red State (3)
Blue Nation Review
IntelliHub.com
Breitbart
Inquisitor.com
JonesReport.com
Satira Tribune
LewRockwell.com
Chronicle.su
Liberal America
The Blaze
CivicTribune.com
LibertyTalk.fm
The Free Thought Project
LibertyUnyielding
CoastToCoastAM.com
LibertyVideos.org
CollectiveEvolution
LMR/LibertyMovementRadio.com
The Other 98%
ConsciousLifeNews.com
MediaMass.net
The Reporterz
ConservativeOutfitters.com
MegynKelly.us
The Stately Harold

ConspiracyWire (WideAwakeAmerica.com)
MSNBC.com.co
TheDailySheeple.com
CountdownToZeroTime.com
MSNBC.website
TheNewsNerd.com
CounterPsyOps.com
TheRunDownLive.com
National Report
TheUsPatriot.com
CreamBMP.com
NationalReport.net
TruthFrequencyRadio.com
DailyBuzzLive.com
NaturalNews.com
Twitchy.com
DailyCurrant.com
NC Scooper
UnconfirmedSources.com
NCT (New Century Times)
Daily Wire
News Examiner
USA Supreme
DCClothesLine.com
News-Hound.com
US.Blasting.News
DCGazette.com
NewsBiscuit.com
US Uncut
DerfMagazine.com
VeteransToday.com
Disclose.tv
DrudgeReport.com.co
Newswatch 28
WakingUpWisconsin.com
Newswatch 33
Winning Democrats
DuhProgressive.com
NewsWire-24.com
WitScience.org
Embols.com
NoDisInfo.com
World Net Daily
Empire Herald
Now8News
Empire News
NowTheEndBegins.com
WorldTruth.tv
EmpireNews.com
Occupy Democrats
ZeroHedge
Endingthefed.com
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