The Ultimate Guide to Spotting Fake News

Services for Real Estate Pros with Inc

Do you know when something is “fake news?” If you have half a brain, you should. However, when someone in authority makes a claim, the masses who elected that person into that authoritative position, automatically trust what has been said and spread that fake news. That needs to stop. My mother one said believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see. And today no matter what, don’t automatically believe what you read.

fake newsThere has been a lot of talk about fake news since the 2016 presidential election, and a lot of controversy from those who spread fake stories for the purpose of influencing hearts and minds and of course the outcome of the election. This is dangerous for dozens of reasons, many of which threaten our democracy and in many cases can lead to people getting killed which has happened many times this year.

Keep in mind that not all people who spread or start fake news stories are propagandists, some are thieves and even more are advertisers. Some people just want you to come to their website so they can get clicks and traffic. Advertisers use fake news, as a way to get more clicks. This isn’t really dangerous to you, but someone is getting money because you are clicking on their site.

Other people use fake news, too, including those who want to facilitate identity theft. There are fake news sites that you click on, and then when you visit the site, you get a virus. From there, a hacker can get access to your personal information including your logins and passwords, bank account information, or even your Social Security number.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Use common sense when looking at fake news stories. If it sounds too sensational, it probably is fake.
  • If a story is an obvious parody, it’s also obviously a fake news story.
  • If you already know some of the facts of the story, and something seems weird about the story you are reading, it’s very possible that the news is fake.
  • Look at the URL where the story is found. If it looks strange, the story is likely fake. For example, if you see a URL ending with “,” it’s a website from Colombia.
  • If there is a photo and the photo looks fake, the story is likely fake, too. But, this isn’t always the case.
  • Don’t just automatically trust.
  • The main stream media has been vilified over the past four years. And while their news is often “biased”, it’s not fake. It’s based on fact, but again those facts may be slanted in favor of the readership. Fake and biased are definitely not the same thing.

Look Closer at the Photos

Many fake news stories have photos that accompany them. Here’s how to test if a realistic photo is accompanying a fake news story.

  • Take a screenshot of the photo, making sure to exclude any graphics that are not relevant.
  • Open Google Images.
  • Upload or drag the screen shot to the search area in Google Images.
  • You will then see information about the “best guess” for the image. If the information doesn’t correlate to the story, you are probably reading a fake news story.

You can use this trick in other ways, too. For instance, if you do online dating, you can see if the person you are talking to is actually who they say they are. If not, they are a faker.

Additionally, you can do this with any image that you have. If the Google Image search gives you information that doesn’t correlate with what you think it does, it is likely a scam. Keep in mind that crooks like identity thieves often steal images and use them as their own.

When you are in doubt, it is always best to do a search on the item to see if other news sources are reporting on it, too. If the only place the story is seen is on a no-name site, you should suspect that it’s fake. If it’s not also being reported by the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, it’s probably fake.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program.

Comments (18)

Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Robert Siciliano  So many scammers out there we should all beware 

Dec 16, 2020 08:56 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Robert Siciliano - this is certainly a good way to segway into identity theft.

Dec 16, 2020 08:58 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Robert - being biased versus outright fakery is a valid discussion that needs to take place.  Will it?  Hmmm. . .  

Dec 16, 2020 09:04 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Robert- there is a difference between fake and biased but it's a grey and thin line. News that is biased and reported as news is in my world fake. I like the idea of taking a photo and putting it into Google images to see what comes up. 

Dec 18, 2020 12:52 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Thank you for supporting logic and railing against the actual fake news that may be out there.

Dec 19, 2020 09:27 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Kathy Streib I never thought of taking a picture of it and putting it on Google. Very interesting, I agree!

Dec 19, 2020 09:28 PM
Karen Simms
Century 21 Arizona Foothills - Queen Creek, AZ
Horse Property Specialist

I love the idea of taking a picture of the article in question and putting it on Google.  Very interesting.  Also, when the media can never say something positive about a person over a period of time, one should question this and look elsewhere for the correct information. 

Dec 21, 2020 12:41 PM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

You didn't just say this did you? And meant it?    "If it’s not also being reported by the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, it’s probably fake."  

Come on...the NYT is one of the greatest propaganda newspapers in the formerly free world.  And I would not trust the WSJ either.  And before you go off on me...I trust zero media outlets to tell the truth. 

Dec 22, 2020 08:37 PM
Susan McCall - - Compass Realty Solutions
Compass Realty Solutions - Portland, OR
Listing and Buyer's Agent

I've used the photo search many times.  I'm kinda  a horticulturist  (plant nerd) and someimtes I want to know the name of a plant or flower and I take a photo of it and pop it ito google search.  Have had good results.  Thanks for pointing out the browser extension.  I haven't been looking for that.  Also, if a website is secure, does that make a difference?

Dec 22, 2020 09:00 PM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I also agree with Mike McCann and as you stated, simply use your common sense. Excuse me but you must be a moron to believe what the MSM reports as news and for those with common sense, it started many years before 2016. 

Dec 23, 2020 01:01 AM
Deb McGuire CNE, ABR, SRS
Keller Williams Capital Partners - Columbus, OH

Excellent article!

Dec 23, 2020 04:46 AM
Bruce Hicks
Best Homes Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
Your Best Hawaii Realtor!

Im not that knowledgeable, Robert Siciliano but wouldn't it be wonderful to HACK the Hackers?!

Dec 23, 2020 08:52 AM
Dave Piedrahita
Keller Williams Realty/Eastside - Kirkland, WA
resale and new construction in greater Seattle

Know your sources:

Dec 23, 2020 10:10 AM
Greg Mona
eXp Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

I'm having trouble believing ANY news these days as trustworthy reporting. When reporters used to report with no apparent bias or slant, we were most likely getting the real scoop or something close to it. Nowadays with talking heads and super biased "reporting", it is very difficult to decipher what is "real". Great tip about Google Images. I always forget to do that!

Dec 23, 2020 01:51 PM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

it is a sad tribute to our society that it has become dofficult to distinguish news from from propaganda etc. A friend in Ukraine owns the largest marketing firm in Europe...he is Scottish and a fan of Soviet propaganda,,,,as he says, "Paddy, propaganda is the highest form of marketing and we can all learn from it"

Dec 28, 2020 04:55 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I had to come back to this one because it’s so interesting and so timely! This was great of you to do this!

Jan 03, 2021 07:42 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There’s so much marketing 24/7 and with our phones, it might be 25/8, to use an expression.

Jan 03, 2021 07:45 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Very smart advice! It's becoming almost impossible NOT to see fake news and scams online.  

Jan 18, 2021 09:16 AM

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?