How do you identify fake news? The convenience of social media sites have made it easier to create and spread fake news. Social media addiction is quite common nowadays. As users of these platforms, we should all be responsible enough to verify skeptical or viral news items before sharing them. Some of them are fiction, or satire, or just efforts to fool people into clicking a link, or into thinking that they’re real stories.
The creation and spread of fake news can be dangerous to the parties involved. It can also negatively affect one’s mental health in the long run. So how do you spot fake news? The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLAI) have provided the following tips:
Consider the Source
The first thing to check out is the source of the news. Is it a reputable news organization, academic institution, information department, research body, or government agency?
These organizations usually publish relevant news that have undergone a lot of research, verification, and factual data to back them up. When a news article cites facts or quotes from an anonymous source or doesn’t even claim to have a source, then don’t click that “Share” or “Retweet” button.
Headlines are designed to catch the reader’s attention so they are written to sound outrageous, sensational or urgent. Before deciding to share the article or post, make sure to read it yourself. This way, you know if it is really an important piece of information that will help people when shared, or if it is just another viral post to increase a page or website’s followers. If you identify it as fake news, then there’s no need to spread it to more people. If you’re just constantly sharing and retweeting stuff; then you need to break your social media addiction.
Check the Author
Is the author credible? Is the author even a real person? Nowadays, many social media influencers (e.g., bloggers, vloggers, authors, celebrities, etc.) have become quite popular. Sometimes, they also publish content that become viral and may look like they’re news-worthy. Make sure you’re not spreading fake news from a bogus personality. You need to check their background and their previous posts to judge for yourself if their content can be considered reliable or not. Ask yourself: Is this content even worth sharing?
There are many reputable organizations whose mission is to publish important breakthroughs and helpful information in their field or industry. Legitimate news agencies usually cite these organizations as sources for their news articles. The organizations themselves usually publish information about all their supporting data and references as well. If you encounter an article that is just a rehash of the original article; then it might be better to just share the original article instead.
Check the Date
Some sites will repost or republish an old article with a catchy headline or story just to generate more views or followers. So be sure to check the article’s date. Otherwise, you might find yourself sharing an article of a scientific breakthrough which is actually old news. It would be embarrassing if your friend tells you it happened a long time ago; or if you have to apologize to them for sharing old and fake news.
Is It a Joke?
Ever fallen victim to an April Fool’s Day prank or article? If so, then you know how important it is to make sure that the news you are sharing is not a prank; unless that’s your goal. Another embarrassing scenario is if you criticize an article harshly. Then, it turns out to be a satirical article. It just shows that you didn’t actually read through the whole thing and failed to identify fake news. Ensure that you have read and understood the purpose of the article before commenting or sharing. Many have shared a piece of financial “good news” to friends which just turned out to be investment scams.
Check Your Biases
This usually happens to fans who idolize celebrities too much. They end up defending their idol’s opinions even if they don’t understand what really happened. Other times, you may be unaware that you are supporting a particular article’s claims only because of your own biases. These may include religious beliefs, cultural traditions, family habits, etc. So check your biases first or you may end up losing friends for sharing a piece of controversial information that may turn out to be fake news. If it doesn’t sound quite right; don’t share it.
Ask the Experts
If you really want to verify whether a piece of news is fake or not, the World Wide Web can help. There are many fact-checking sites that you can consult as well as online libraries and open source information sites. You can also consult the agencies or organizations involved directly. The best way to track down the validity of a piece of news and its claims is to click the references mentioned in the article and see for yourself if they support the story.
The important thing to remember is to think before you click “Share”. Do not share if you’re not sure about the article’s source or claims. This means that you must read the article yourself and have the due diligence to conduct your own research and investigation. If you don’t have the time for this; then better not share it, especially if it is a highly controversial piece of news. A good tip to follow is: if it doesn’t make you feel good, better not share it. In a stressful society, it is important that we stay away from bad news and fake news, and be able to maintain the proper mindset especially in times of crisis.