characters accessing information on a mobile, website and someone conveying information through a megaphone

January 29, 2024, by Laura Nicholson

Strategies to Identify Misinformation: Websites

The amount of data on the internet unsurprisingly continues to increase, and by 2025, it is estimated that globally we will have generated just over 180 zettabytes of data (with 1 zettabyte being approximately equal to one billion terabytes) (Statista, 2024). That’s an impressive amount of content which provides us with the ability to explore our amazing world at the click of a button, gain insights into lived experiences, and enjoy live-streamed events from the comfort of our homes. The accessibility of news updates from multiple sources, coupled with citizen journalism on social media platforms, allows for real-time reporting, capturing events as they unfold, minute by minute and second by second. However, these advantages also bring downsides, and this is the challenge we face in trying to determine whether information is trustworthy or not.

Adopting a proactive approach of questioning content and maintaining a certain level of scepticism is crucial. By questioning claims and being suspicious, we become active consumers of knowledge, which promotes a more comprehensive level of understanding and safeguards against potential deception. Allowing time to conduct searches to authenticate sources is extremely valuable and should be an integral part of online research. So, let’s take a look at some of the most relied-upon strategies for detecting misinformation in relation to websites.



Websites trying to spread misinformation may try to disguise themselves as legitimate and credible websites. Check the spelling and structure of the URL. Often, people may try to mimic another website by just changing a few letters in the URL to confuse people into thinking it’s the real thing. Also, check for hyphens or symbols in the URL where they shouldn’t be.

Breakdown of a URL:protocol,subdomain,damain name, port, path,query,parameter,fragment.


Artificially generated content

There are sites where you can check the likelihood of information being AI-generated. I don’t want to specifically endorse any, as a quick Google search will suggest some. What I would say is that, while useful, remember that no tool is yet at 100% accuracy in detecting AI content.

Sound familiar?

Is it the first time you’ve heard that story or piece of information? If so, you should conduct extra research to see if the content or claims are backed up anywhere else.


When looking at articles on social media, take a look at the comments before clicking on the article.A computer arrow People are usually quick to point out if the article is clickbait (content whose main purpose is to attract attention and consequently get you to click to access it). The use of shocking headlines and claims written to deliberately grab your attention is a usual giveaway of clickbait articles, as the stories have been designed to get more visitors to the website. More visitors to the website will then result in increased advertising revenue for the owner, hence why they are so keen to get your attention (Kapersky, 2024).

Credible sources

Look for references. Not everywhere provides sources for the information they have provided, and if they don’t, this doesn’t mean they are fake. However, a site that does reveal references is often one that is more credible, as it gives you the chance to check any claims.

Features of credible sources - author, current infomraiton, established source, objective data, quality writing and verify references.

Sponsored content

Generally, people have become quite adept at identifying ads wishing to sell us something, but what about sponsored content? Some may provide disclosures like “sponsored post” or “in partnership with.” With sponsored content, be wary of glowing reviews or endorsements of something without any critical assessment, as it often has the underlying motive to sell you something in a more covert way than a straightforward ad would (Amazeen, 2018).

Year of publication

Check the year of publication. This is usually found somewhere at the top, near the header, or it can often be found in the footer. If no date is present, be wary, as it may be presenting information that has now become outdated.


Engage with the content. As you read, ask, ‘Is the information biased? Is someone or something being targeted’? If so, try to research other viewpoints and think about what is being missed out of the article and why.

Fake news

Fake news stories created by ChatGPT are unfortunately now a thing. Moran (2023) reported on a case where one of their journalists had been contacted about a story that wasn’t appearing in the Guardian repository. The reason for the article’s disappearance was because it had not been written by the journalist but ChatGPT. So, if you come across a story that is supposedly from a big news corporation, try searching for it in their repository to ensure it’s genuine.

Fake news sign in front of the world

Author credentials

Check the author. If the author is provided, a quick Google search will reveal more information about the author and could indicate whether the author may have a personal interest in promoting something in a certain way.

About pages

‘About’ pages are often suggested as a way to verify a source, but those spreading misinformation know this too. Scammers spreading misinformation are now well aware that a well-written “About” page has the ability to sway students into believing the contents of the site is genuine.

Credible organisation

Major websites run by large organisations have a strong interest in being truthful in order to ensure that their consumers remain loyal. So, generally, they tend to be more careful about publishing content that is genuine, although it may still be one-sided in its approach.

And finally, does it sound true? Trust your instinct; if it sounds unbelievable, then it usually is!

There are always exceptions to these points, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all tool available to quickly check for misinformation on a website. The key is to be aware and to utilise the strategies we have available to dig out misinformation where we can.


Amazeen, M.A. and Wojdynski, B.W. (2019) ‘Reducing Native Advertising Deception: Revisiting the Antecedents and Consequences of Persuasion Knowledge in Digital News Contexts’. Mass Communication and Society, 22:2, 222-247. DOI: 10.1080/15205436.2018.1530792

Kapersky. (2024) How to Identify Fake News. Available at: (Last accessed 24/01/2024)

Moran, C. (2023) ‘ChatGPT is making up fake Guardian articles. Here’s how we’re responding’. The Guardian. 6th Apr 2023. Available at: (Last accessed 23/01/2024)

Statista. (2024) Volume of data/information created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide from 2010 to 2020, with forecasts from 2021 to 2025. Available at: (Last accessed 24/01/2024)

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