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Have you ever wandered the web and wondered some information might be false? We’ve all been there. That awkward moment you scroll through your social media feed just to realize all that “fake news” about who-knows-what is even true. The spread of information via the mass media — be it intentional (disinformation), or unintentional (misinformation) — is a menace. This is the result of the rapid growth of digital media, online news outlets, and social media nowadays; and the emerging issue isn’t going away soon. There are new digital tools for identifying “fake news” being developed. But here are five tips that can help you identify fake news.
Related media: Five Ways To Spot Fake News
#1. Where’s The News Source
It doesn’t matter where the heck on the web you get the news, doing a little bit of background research into the source is really crucial. These news are mostly on social media — be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the others — that seem to be valid. And before you fall for whatever it is, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the news appear on a secure website?
- What information is on the website?
- What does the “About Us” section of the page look like?
- Is the author credible or known from other news media?
- What does the URL even look like?
#2. Do Some Critical Evaluation
Whatever story you’ll find on the internet nowadays seem real — a reason why you’ll fall for them. The headlines of such “fake news” are captioned specifically to catch your attention emotionally. Instead, think about it rationally. Take a minute to ponder about the headline and ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the theme of the headline?
- Is this meant to influence me?
- Are they trying to convince me into something?
- Do they want to lead me to another website?
- Is this even credible or reported on news portals?
#3. Follow And Review The Sources
If indeed the news source is credible, it’ll surely contain quotes, dates, and facts — be it expert statements, survey evaluations, or statistics. Serious news will be credible enough to include links of it’s sourcing; and if the author isn’t credible, there will be no sources, just hearsay. You might ask the following questions:
- Where did the news originate from?
- Are there any links to other sites?
- When was this even published or written?
- Is there enough evidence within it to justify it?
- Were the facts invented or distorted?
#4. Look Out For Fake Images
Obviously, fake news is often accompanied by fake images. No wonder! Whatever images being presented within the news should prove the facts presented. How on Earth in the vast connection of the internet can you identify fake images from real ones? There are modern tech to help you, but here are a few things to watch out for:
- Check out for shadow effects in the image, if correct.
- Check if items like people or things have odd frayed edges.
- Review image with Google Reverse Image Search, for the original source.
- Check the meta-info from exifdata.com if images have been edited before.
- Finally, look out for image credits and the original stock site(s) its from.
#5. Who Else Is Reporting The News
They say the more something is being talked about, the likelihood of it being true. Is the testimony of two really valid? Hmmm! It all depends on who is reporting what. Trusting the credibility of news sources on the internet nowadays can be difficult. If you ever find something viral on the web that you’ve never seen before, it’s better to check from other news portals whether its being reported there, too. Compare news sources with major portals like Cable News Network (CNN), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Reuters and other reputable publishers. Take note and fact-check the information as well.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Thu, Jun 04, 2020.