With the digital media gaining prominence in every aspect of our daily lives, it is increasingly difficult to spot fake news. Despite all claims otherwise, we still know how fake news on Facebook largely contributed to the Republican wave in the 2016 US Elections
Some Ways on How to Spot Fake News and Fake News Articles:
Fake news as a term has become extremely popular in the current time. With social media becoming the most important source of information and communication all around the world, and within seconds; fake news is becoming a serious threat to the authenticity of a news piece. Every time something happens a few selected pictures start getting shared on social media which are bogus and hold no water. But as a layman how to spot fake news and not get affected, well there are certain checks you must do before you believe the fake news:
1- Check the source as first and foremost step:
Every viral news piece you feel may be a fake news, you must go ahead and check its source. The origin point will help you in understanding if at all the source is trustworthy. Do not fall prey to conspiracy theories and alternative news. Just check the URL where the news item is published. Anything which does not have an authentic source must be dissed and registered for spamming.
2- Check google for the headline:
The headline of such viral and unbelievable news pieces must be searched in google before coming to conclusion. If any of the authentic News websites have written about this and in a manner as shared by the fake news we are analyzing; then this ought to be true. Do not go for the non popular websites or random URL’s they are the most contagious fake news proliferation grounds.
3- Read through the headline and till the end:
Many times just reading the entire headline and through it will help in identifying if that is a fake news. Most fake news websites and fake news stories have a rather spamming or pornographic content or text towards the end or anywhere near the headline. You must identify the same
4- Check Author Details:
This will be another significant part in detecting fake news articles. Also remember fake news stories may not even have an author, they are just programmed through software’s or made up using algorithms. Reading about the author will help you understand if that’s even a reality. The details like awards won by the author or the publication he or she works with and other details can be verified on google easily with authentic websites.
5- Read the contact us page of this website:
Navigate through the contact us page on the presumed fake news site. If the website does not have a contact us page then it is established that it is a fake news site. Also if there are details given in contact us section then read through them. You will not find the contacts on this page anywhere else if its a fake news.
6- Check the website layout and professionalism depicted:
With improper language and texts or layout, it’s seems sure that the website is fake. Also news websites have a certain font and color they follow, like usually plain fonts more of Sans serif and only in black color. For anything creative you must check it for fake news more than original news.
7- Check their website about us page and look for other social media URLs:
The about us page must show authentic information about the website and its owners. Also, has the website posted the same in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more of social media.
8- Check the images for source:
Right click on image and reverse search on google for originality. You will find the exact details of whenever this image was uploaded and shared. You can also search URL and it offers an image search option too. Authenticity of image and the ownership also helps in understanding if the article is a fake news.
9- Ruffle through other articles on this website:
Just check what are the other articles on this website. For a fake news website everything is about creating sensation and scandals. So reading a few of their posts will help you understand how original the website is.
10- Check on fake news debunking sites:
There are a list of websites which help in fact checking and thus preventing the spread of fake news. Some of the popular fact checking websites include Snopes, Factcheck.org, the Washington Post Fact checker and many more such. Check the viral or trending topic in these fact checking websites and see the legitimacy of the news.
11- Consult the experts:
Before sharing any apparent fake news, it is better to look for expert guidance. These experts are trained to separate the fake news from originals and it gets easier for us to understand how to tell if the news is fake.
12- Check comments on facebook fake news share post:
If you find most comments as useless or too outrageous or spamming; it definitely is a fake news article. Before writing a comment yourself, just click profiles of a few people who have already commented to check if they are spammers or do they even look like a decent profile.
13- Before sharing or believing in any news piece, give it a thought as in who would benefits from this kind of article and what’s the main reason for such a post at this time. Also if the claims in the article post look twisted and unbelievable, check the facts again on fact checking sites
Top 5 fake news stories on facebook which got millions of shares:
- “Obama signs executive order banning the pledge of allegiance in schools nationwide”; abcnews.com.co: Check it’s not abcnews.com but a (dot) CO is at the end too, it got 2.1 million shares on Facebook
- “Pope Francis shocks the world, endorses Donald Trump for President”: It got 97k shares on Facebook and changed the course of US election in 2016
- “Trump offering free one way tickets to Mexico and Africa for those who wish to leave US”: This fake news article got 80k shares on facebook this caused quite a stir.
- “FBI Agent suspected in Hilary email leaks found dead in a murder-suicide”: This news got 57k shares on Facebook and made it so believable that even now people read and believe it
- “Rage against the machine to reunite and release Anti Donald Trump Album”: This fake news got over 56k shares on facebook.
Whatsapp and Facebook have become the one stop shop for fake news proliferation and no matter how many checks they put in, some sort of loophole stays intact. Despite all odds, we tend to believe in the fake news more than the original and that is how the sharing chain begins. Specially the elders who are new to mobile devices and the youngsters who don’t even know whats right and what’s not; are the worst affected people from fake news. So keep these above points in mind and discuss with your parents and kids. This is the only way you can prevent them from falling prey to fake news in this digital era.
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