Recently a high school classmate of mine posted an image showing dozens of electric cars in a junkyard near France with a caption indicating they were abandoned due to failed batteries and were now leaking dangerous chemicals, harming the environment they were created to save. There was a negative comment questioning the move to electric vehicles and pointing to the failure of green technology. Another friend and classmate responded that they had decided to do some due diligence before responding to the original post. He wanted to know whether he should accept the image, the caption’s claim, and the author’s conclusion regarding the folly of electric powered vehicles. Was it real news or was it fake news? With a minute of due diligence by way of online research my classmate learned all bout the image, the caption, and the story behind them both. He also learned whether the original author was sharing real news or fake news.

Fake news is often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared online for the purpose of generating ad revenue via web traffic or discrediting a public figure, political movement, or company. They often contain false, incomplete, or misleading information and no verifiable sources. Fake news matters much more today because it undermines the public’s trust in the free press that our nation’s founders protected in our Constitution. They understood that trust in our 3 branches of government and the free press were vital to the survival of our country. So how can each of us do our own due diligence to ensure that what we read online is not fake news?

Understanding where news sources fall on the political spectrum can help us be aware of our own political preferences, biases and blindspots. There are several organizations that rank news sources. is a news website that presents multiple sources side by side in order to provide the full scope of news reporting. The Alludes rating page ( let you filter news sources by bias (left, center, right).

Determining the accuracy and reliability of posts, articles, and sources can be done using They are a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Their website lists current and past questions and answers about recent articles in the news and online, including questions about science. You can also send them questions if you do not see what you’re looking for. Another fact checking site is

Another website that measures both bias and factual accuracy is Media Bias/Fact Check. ( They currently rate over 4600 publications, indicating where they fall on the political spectrum. They also provide updated daily bias and accuracy ratings for a range of publications. The oldest and largest fact checking site is It was started in 1994. You can search for topics or sign up for their daily (except on Sundays) Debunker newsletter.

There are several local websites available to help us to be aware of our own biases and to assist in gaining or maintaining a more balanced approach to how was consume news and social media. Many local libraries have resources such as this one at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick (/ There are 8 concrete steps for spotting fake news to avoid being taken in and mislead by fake news.

But back to the beginning and my friend and classmate’s due diligence. He discovered that the picture was indeed electric vehicles sitting in a junkyard near Paris France. But they were not there due to failed batteries. They had been leased vehicles and were being sold or recycled for parts. The batteries were no longer in the cars and had been recycled. Verdict: Fake News!

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