Faking it – how to tell if news is real or fake
Fake news is everywhere, and that’s truly a bit scary. But what does that even mean and with today’s information overload – how on earth can we tell the real from the fake? With most of us being inundated with varying forms of news and information from a variety of sources continuously, it can be really hard to discern the real from the fake, and sometimes even harder to resist the temptation to unknowingly share that fake information. Social media makes this particularly easy, and certainly increases the likelihood of us being exposed to fake news as it provides a much quicker and easier channel with which to distribute it. We even get our news through WhatsApp and probably from some questionable, albeit sometimes well-meaning friends, family members or the ever dreaded WhatsApp groups.
So, where does one start when it comes to dissecting news stories in order to know what’s real? Well, thankfully there are a few ways that this can be done, but it helps to know what to look for. First things first, what is the source of this news? It is very important to be able to critically assess whether or not the source of the news can be deemed reliable and verifiable – this is applicable across the board whether it comes from social media, a website, a message or a voice note, just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean that it is true. It is equally as important to consider the following before hitting that share button on any social sites, because ultimately you do not want to be associated with spreading fake news or misleading information. Before you share beware of who the original publisher was, does this news originate from a reputable source or has it been shared by anyone else who can be deemed reputable – if so, then that’s a good start. Next on the list is evidence – is there any evidence that can be found to verify any claims being made, when in doubt Google it out and do a bit of research on it yourself just to make sure. Lastly, can you determine what the intention of the news is in terms of ‘possible agenda’s’ and what an “organisation may hope to gain” out of sharing this news.
The internet is also populated with hundreds and thousands of fake news sites, sometimes these are easy to spot through the pictures that they use, their social pages, or their contact details. However, some of the fake news sites rely on subtle changes to the site name, and are able to put up a pretty convincing replica of the original site. Trust your gut, double check and do your own homework. Lastly, with great exposure to vast amounts of information – comes great responsibility. There are certain steps that you can take if you identify a fake news source, of course and perhaps most logically if you think its fake – do not spread it, share it or give it any more exposure than necessary. If someone you know is sharing something what you know to be fake, you need to let them know, and last but not least, do the right thing and report it.