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How to Identify Fake News Online

Tips on How to Identify Fake News

Do you know an irresponsible forwarder or two, or three or five? Do you scroll through social media and wonder what the truth is? What info can you trust?

What happens all too often is folks get an email with the tone or POV you agree with, and off it goes to “all your friends.” Or they don’t hesitate to repost social media that may not be coming from reliable sources, regardless of whether it is accurate or based on any fact or reality.

I see this all the time. On my socials and in my inbox regardless of political views, right or left, up or down. Some are either lazy, ignorant, or purposely pushing an agenda. Whatever the reason, you must ensure you don’t become part of the fake news crowd.

Here are some tips to help you weed out the misinformation and drama vs. truth and facts to help you identify fake news:

Identifying Fake News Online

  • Check the source: Investigate the source of the news. Is it a well-known and reputable news outlet or an unfamiliar website or social media account? Be cautious of sources that lack transparency, contact information, or a history of credible reporting.
  • Look for multiple sources: Verify information by cross-referencing it with reputable sources. It may be questionable if a story is only reported by one source.
  • Check the author: Research the author’s history, qualifications, and background. Be skeptical if there’s no author listed or if the author has a history of spreading misinformation.
  • Assess the headline: Fake news often uses sensational or clickbait headlines. Read the entire article to ensure that the content matches the headline and isn’t taken out of context.
  • Examine the date: Check the publication date to ensure the information is current. Some fake news stories are old and resurface as if they’re new.
  • Fact-checking websites: Utilize websites like VerifyThis.com. These sites can help you verify the accuracy of a news story.
  • Evaluate the content: Look for signs of bias, emotional language, or extreme claims. Fake news often relies on emotional manipulation and sensationalism.
  • Check for supporting evidence: Legitimate news articles typically cite sources and experts and provide data to support their claims. If there’s no supporting evidence, be skeptical.
  • Consider the tone and quality: Real news stories are typically well-written, well-edited, and adhere to journalistic standards. Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and a lack of professionalism can be red flags.
  • Watch for image manipulation: Fake news often includes manipulated or doctored images, especially with the onset of AI. Reverse image searches on tools like Google Images can help verify the authenticity of pictures.
  • Question your own biases: Be aware of your beliefs and biases, which can influence your perception of news. Try to approach information with an open mind.
  • Use critical thinking: Apply critical thinking skills to assess the information logically. Ask questions about the source’s reliability, the evidence provided, and the motivations behind the story.
  • Beware of social media: False information often spreads quickly on social media platforms. Be cautious and verify the information before sharing it.
  • Consult experts: Seek out experts or professionals in the relevant field to provide insight or analysis on complex topics.
  • Educate yourself: Familiarize yourself with logical fallacies, propaganda techniques, and the basics of information literacy to better discern fake news from credible information. Don’t just mimic those on “your side” — try to understand both sides.

Go ahead and forward. Properly.

Forwarding is okay if done correctly. And if you know for a fact, the recipients don’t mind you doing so.

However, those irresponsible forwarders are forwarding to all they know regardless of whether the email would interest “all” or before checking if the email is even accurate. By displaying all their friends’ email addresses in the To or Cc fields, without thinking, they have just exposed all their friend’s addresses to total strangers.

They are also not taking the time to verify these forwards and, in the process, end up looking ignorant. Every onliner is responsible for ensuring that the emails they forward are not “fake news” or hoaxes.

All one has to do is go to VerifyThis.com. Then, search for the email or information in question and confirm if it is the truth or a hoax before hitting that forward button.

You are personally responsible for each email you send. Just as you will be accountable when it is discovered, you forward erroneous information as if it were true.

Once this happened to me, and in my reply, I noted, “BTW, this is not true.” with a link to the page that showed the email was over the top crazy. Their response? “Haven’t you ever sent information you didn’t know was true?” No, I have not…

Embrace Your Responsibility

Identifying fake news can be challenging, as it often involves distinguishing between credible information and misleading or false content. But it can only happen with willing participants.

Remember that misinformation and disinformation can be subtle, and it’s essential to approach all information critically. No single method is foolproof, so combining these strategies can help you become a more discerning news consumer.

Be more intelligent and courteous than those who just forward or post without thought or concern for the truth or others’ privacy. It will be appreciated by all those you do forward to.

Get the word out...

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