Many years ago, when people got their news mainly from papers, magazines, radio, and television, fake news was not commonplace. But in the last decade, as the world went high tech with the growth of the internet and social media, fake news stories and fake news sites became proliferated.
Talks about fake news have turned into a new focus on media literacy in general and the roles of institutions and libraries in providing this. Despite driving worldwide discussions, fake news appears to be powering ahead of facts.
At the heart of the problem is the fact that many fake news sites deliberately try to make people believe they are real either by not disclosing their intention which is usually to cause humour or hide it deep within their site. Others, on the other hand, intentionally try to sell false tales to drive traffic to their site and earn advert revenue. Guess what? Such sites achieve their aim as many people circulate bewildering contents or headlines more than accurate contents that are very direct. They do these without even reading it or evaluating it.
Identifying fake news from the real news is not that easy and there seems not to be a trick for figuring that out. However, there are steps that when followed, may get one closer to identifying the wrongs from the rights in news.
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Here’s How To Identify Fake News
- Check The Source:
Reading news from the right source is the first step when you want to discern fake news. The source is important because reputable sites wouldn’t want to lose their good name for one false story and as such would avoid the false news. Again, such sites already have high-ranking traffic status and thus are not so desperate to drive traffic to their site.
If you don’t know or haven’t heard of the site, it is possible they are just starting and most startups or newly established sites can easily get desperate. This is, however, not ironclad as some news sites may be popular among your friends and still brew fake news, which is why fame isn’t the only yardstick here.
2. Check the Domain Name
Be cautious of the unusual usernames. For instance, CNN.com is known to be a reliable news source but if you come across CNN.com.co or something unusual, it should be a first signal that you might be on the wrong site. The latter may be credible but the former is designed to divert the attention of people who probably rely on the original CNN for news.
3. From What Position Does The Publication Observe Issues?
“It is vital to check “About Us” of every site you are reading your news from to learn more about the publisher, its stated goals, etc. This will help you know if you are on satirical news site. That is if their intention is to be hilarious and create humour. If this is not the case, then you are probably on the wrong site.
4. Does It Sound Too Funny To Be Possible?
When you stumble upon some contents that sound too humorous to be true, evaluate it rather than just click immediately. This is because some headlines are written to attract even the most reluctant person and at the end of the day it will discuss something entirely different from its title. When a title sounds like someone’s interpretation of an opinion, just be mindful so you don’t become disappointed to find out you just fell for a click bait.
Social Media Is Not To Be Trusted
Social media websites give businesses and political campaigners easy gateway to target you with sponsored ads. Some of such ads are fake news even though they appear real and their main intention is not just to sell falsehood to you but also to attract your attention and make you click on the link to a particular webpage.
Quality Is Important
Don’t read trash, if there are so many errors of any kind, it could be an indication that you might be reading trash. While there is no media platform, even the most reputable ones that don’t make mistakes, but if it is something that occurs every time then it is questionable. This is because a site that has built its name, has high proofreading and grammatical standards.
Check The Citations
Is what you are reading backed up by convincing reference? Keep in mind that reputable sites reference most of their sources. They don’t just manufacture news from nowhere and dish out.
Most of them even go there to ensure they bring you true information. No matter who shares the information, just keep in mind that falsehood goes viral more than facts so be careful before you click. Again, if there are no citations and it is just on the website (if it has not been reported in multiple sources) then you should be suspicious of it.
How We Can Stop Fake News
We all agree that tech started all this, it therefore should end it. However, the tech and information can only do so much without it producing the desired effect. So while tech (especially social media platforms like Facebook are trying to end this) we have gathered things each of us can, in our own way do to end fake news. They include;
Shunning or boycotting such corporate media – This would affect their income. As a result, they will be forced to notice the public’s concern against their actions.
Secondly, we can get people around us who trust such platforms to know that they are self-invented lies. If they could accept it, it means they could have accepted slave trade, racism and all.
We can also tell people about fact-checking communities like Politifact.com, Snopes.com and Fact-checking.org. Through these platforms, they can be aware of daily lies going around the internet.
Subscribe to news sites and magazines that are trustworthy and have a good reputation. By so doing, you are signing up for first-hand information and not garbage.
Finally, report fake news sites on different social media platforms and get other subscribers to join you. This will help the support system to shut down such sites from their platforms.