Fake News in Social Media: 3 easy steps to spot them
People used to get their news mainly from television, radio or newspapers, and it was generally easy to spot fabricated stories. However, this situation has changed completely since the Internet and social media became the preferred communication channel among a significant number of users that grows every year
Many sites try to pass fake news as real in order to drive traffic to their site or to influence the audience in a specific way. “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president, releases statement”, “Wikileaks CONFIRMS Hillary sold weapons to ISIS… Then drops another BOMBSHELL! Breaking news”. When news like these pop up in the social media feed they get thousands of interactions and the fake story gets quickly spread. What happened during US Presidential Elections is just an example that depicts perfectly the current post-truth era in which the notion of truth has become irrelevant. There would be a remarkable number of engagements in social media regardless of the veracity of the information published. But, how do we spot fake news?
1. Research the name of the site
If you have never heard of it, you should check the 'About Us' page. If there is none, then you should decide if a non-transparent website is trustworthy. Pay attention to the URL, it may try to appear like a legitimate news site using a similar name but there will be some differences, like using .co instead of .com
2. Be suspicious about sensational or emotional headlines
Words in all caps, headlines featuring bold claims with no specific sources, statements that make you feel really angry… Fake stories usually feature these characteristics.
3. Fact-check what the article claims by different media outlets
Check if reputable sites have published it too. This is one of the easiest ways to find out if what you have seen is another fake news story. Google that information and see what comes up. If three relevant media outlets are telling the same story, it is likely to be true.