A Google Docs file is spreading across the internet after both Facebook and Google announced their goals to combat fake news. Melissa Zimdars, an assistant profess at Merrimack College, created the document which includes news sites that are either fake, misleading, or satirical in nature.
The document has popped up in the Los Angeles Times, Forbidden Hillcrest, and even on Reddit. One of the sites that is on the list, Inquisitr, even wrote an article on it. Inquisitr claimed that sites like Raw Story and GlobalResearch.ca have already been removed from the list, citing that there may already be a backlash against the list from some publishers.
Zimdars puts the news sites into four categories. Category one deals with sites that rely on "outrage culture", using distorted headlines or misleading information. Category two are sites that "circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information." Category three is for more click-bait type websites that still deliver questionable information. And category four deals with satires news site like The Onion. The satires sites are included into the list because Zimdars thinks they sometimes contribute to the cycle of misinformation.
The list includes sites like Info Wars, Occupy Democrats, Project Veritas, and Breitbart News. Recently, Breitbart's former executive chairman, Steve Bannon, was named as President-elect Donald Trump's chief strategist.
Zimdars also gives tips to avoid what could potentially be a fake news site. She said that sites that end with ".com.co" tend to emulate real news sources.
"Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story," she said. "Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event."
While she calls out sites like The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News for having the same problems as some of the sites on the list she doesn't include them. Those sites, she said, can and do offer up legitimate news coverage.
She also said that it's best to read multiple news sources on one issues that way you can get a variety of viewpoints. This also helps for you to not get trapped in an echo-chamber of news that may be slanted or skewed.
Zimdars is continually updating the document, meaning she may add more sites or remove any or all of the sites that are currently compiled on the list.