fake news

Fake news: what is it and how to spot it

Fake news is something that you may have seen floating around the social media and news realms lately. Fake news is just that, news with false information, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.

The printing and distribution of bogus news is not a new concept. Wherever there are people there is false information printed. We live in an age where information is spread faster than ever before. Stories can go viral in a matter of minutes. This is why fake news has become such an issue in 2017. Information overload and a general lack of understanding about how the internet works has also contributed to an increase in fake news or hoax stories.

 

Let’s take a look at the different types of fake news.

*Clickbait

Clickbait stories use sensationalist headlines to grab attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page. These stories are deliberately fabricated to gain more website visitors and increase advertising revenue for websites.

*Propaganda

These are stories that are created to purposely mislead people and promote a biased point of view.

*Satire

Quite a few websites publish fake news stories purely for entertainment purposes. These websites include The Onion, The Daily Mash, Weekly World News, etc.

 

At this point you may think, “surely it’s easy to tell fake news from real news”. Surprisingly, it’s not. So many people blindly accept what they read and fail to take a minute to fact check. Because of this, news then gets passed around like wildfire and before you know it, the author has made a large amount of money off of it. The creators of fake news make thousands of dollars a month off of their stories.

 

How to Spot Fake News

So what do you do when you are online and you see an article shared that looks questionable or you are just curious?

*Take a closer look

Check the source of the story. Is the website recognizable? Is it a reliable source? If it looks unfamiliar, look in the about section or find out more information about the author.

*Look beyond the headline

It’s easy to take one look at a headline and think, “oh wow!” The truth is, many of those headlines are designed to do just that. They are meant to grab your attention and shock you into sharing it. Often these headlines are in all caps or capitalize parts they want to emphasize the most. Take a minute to actually open the article and read it. Many times more information is right there for you to make a decision on if it is fake or not.

*Check other sources

Are there other reputable websites reporting the same information/story? Are there any sources in the story? If so, check those out to make sure they are reliable or even exist at all.

*Check the facts

Check when the article was published to see if it is a current or old story. Many times fake news articles will contain incorrect dates or misrepresented timelines.

*Check your biases

When we believe something we try to find information to support that thought, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is correct. Take a minute to make sure you own views or beliefs aren’t getting in the way of your judgment to decide what is real or fake.

 

All it takes to stop the spread of misinformation is just a few minutes of your time to make sure what you are sharing is correct. Take some time to inform yourself and those you influence on a daily basis.