Misinformation is nothing new, but thanks to the internet and social media, the way it is created and spread has changed dramatically. Before the internet, misinformation almost never came from individuals as journalists had to follow strict regulations and editorial standards.
Regulations and standards all but disappeared as the internet enabled new ways to publish and share information. Now it’s become much more difficult to determine which news stories are false or credible.
In this article, we’ll cover six tips that can help you spot fake news.
Don’t Blindly Trust Search Engines
It’s tempting to simply believe the first search result that Google shows you when searching for something, but you shouldn’t be quick to assume the search results only include trusted pages or true news stories.
Search results are often littered with fake social and politics news stories from unreliable sources that fool the algorithm into thinking they’re good sites by artificially increasing their views.
Determine if the Sources Are Credible
Whenever you’re reading a story on social media or a news site, you’ll see hyperlinks within the article or links at the end of the story that show their sources.
Follow the link and ensure that it confirms what’s being claimed. If it’s a quote from a person, be sure to find its context as quotes can often be misconstrued for the sake of a story.
Find the Story on Other Sites
If you see a shocking or outrageous headline while scrolling through social media, make sure that reputable and global news agencies like CNN or BBC News have reported on it. It’s unlikely that only one news site would be reporting on it if it’s big.
Since global news agencies have rigorous editorial guidelines that involve numerous highly trained reporters, confirming the story from them is a good place to start.
Do Research on the Author
Knowing about the author, who they work for, and what they’ve written in the past can give you a good idea as to whether they’re a reputable journalist.
Do they often write stories that sound unbelievable? Are the sites they report on genuine sites? Knowing the author’s area of expertise and agenda can also tell you a lot about them.
Develop a Critical Mindset
A big reason why a lot of fake news is believed by tons of people and spreads so far and wide is due to its emotionally provoking nature. It is cleverly written to instill fear or anger among people.
Maintaining a critical mindset will help you realize why a certain story was written and what sort of agenda it’s pushing. Another indication of a fake story is if it tries to make you click through to another site.
Make Sure It’s Not a Joke
Satirical websites and news agencies aren’t uncommon. It’s often quite easy to tell whether a story is just a joke or parody after reading it fully, which most people tend not to do.
But some can still be quite believable. In the past, many famous journalists have instances of falling victim to joke news stories. Check the site or author to see if they’re known for creating joke stories.