There is lots of fake news and misinformation circulated online especially on social feeds and chat groups.
Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created specifically to misinform or deceive readers.
These types of stories are created to manipulate readers’ views, push a political agenda or create confusion and make a profit out of online publishers.
So how can you differentiate fake news from the real stuff? Here’s a guideline to keep you from believing the nonsense out there and becoming a party to inadvertently spreading it.
1. Evaluate the headline: Does it sound unrealistic?
Take the time to read the entire article. Many kinds of fake news use sensationalist or shocking headlines to grab a reader’s attention. Usually, the headlines of fake news stories are printed in uppercase and use exclamation points.
2. Check the url: Does it contain any odd suffixes or substitution?
Be wary of domain names that use odd additions like “.com.co” as these are false and illegitimate sites, designed to appear similar to genuine sites.
3. Check the author’s credentials
Has the author published any other content? Be wary if the byline, which names the author is a celebrity writing for a well-known site or if the author’s contact details is a Gmail address.
4. Check for false images
Modern editing software has made it easy for people to create and design fake visuals that may look realistic at first sight.
Amateur works can be easier to identify because of the shoddy editing style. Professional work on the other hand is significantly harder to distinguish because the editing is sophisticated.
If you still have doubts, you can use tools such as Google Reverse Image Search to determine whether the image has been doctored or used in the wrong context.
5. Consult and compare competing sources
Fake or biased news sites tend to pick up published stories that have been edited to fit their twisted views.
Search for the original articles to determine what the true context is. This can be helpful when it comes to quotations.
Quotes can be easily changed by taking out leading sentences and using them out of context.
6. Fact-check stories: Use sites like Snopes, Politico, and Politifact
Fact-checking is the act of determining factual information in non-fiction text to ensure the veracity and correctness of the factual statements.
Here are some of the top links that you can utilise for fact-checking:
FactCheck: This site specialise in checking up on political claims.
Politifact: The Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact researches the claims of politicians and checks for accuracy.
Snopes.com: Considered to be one of the oldest debunking sites on the World Wide Web, Snopes.com focuses on urban legends, news stories and memes. Snopes also cite their sources for every debunking.
LinkedIn: A professional networking website where you can search for authors of articles and books to determine if they’re credible.
7. Dig deeper: Follow up on cited sources and quotes
If you realise there is a lack of quotes and contributing sources, specifically on a controversial or serious topic, then something is amiss.
Credible journalism is based on fact-gathering, and a lack of research is a strong indicator that there is a lack of fact-based information.
8. Check other sites reporting similar news or story
Look at other news sites to determine whether the story has been picked up. If the story you have isn’t from a well-known source or is not verified, there’s a possibility that it could be fake news.
9. Is it satirical?
Satirical sites are well known and sometimes it is not always certain whether the intention of the story is to tell a joke or parody.
Check the website info to determine whether the site is known for satire or cheating funny stories.
The best-known example is “The Onion,” which started in 1996 and is well known for deliberately publishing hoaxes in an attempt to profit from gullible readers.
This article first appeared in jobstore.com
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