Election Universe

5 tips to avoid being fooled by ‘Fake News’

5 tips to avoid being fooled by ‘Fake News’
January 09 2018, 14:04

Arguably the biggest story in the last two years is how fake news has contaminated the news ecosystem, deceiving millions and even unduly influencing the outcome of some elections.

Fake news is not a new phenomenon, and has existed in various forms through the years either as propaganda being manufactured by governments, as slanted reportage churned out by media outlets pushing their own ideologies, or hoaxes cooked up by hucksters out to make a quick buck.

But the manner by which fake news exploded in the last two years serves as a cautionary tale of how the power of social media can be easily abused.

Purveyors of fake news have seen its deadly effectiveness and are expected to utilize it again and again to manipulate public opinion and hijack elections. Luckily there are ways to curb its spread. Here are some of the simplest yet most effective tips not spot fake news:

  1. Check the source. Most fake news are created by websites that either sound unfamiliar (Celebtricity.com), outlandish (Huzlers.com), or deceptively similar to legitimate news sources (cnn-trending.com).

Wikipedia has put together a list of known websites peddling fake news.

Check for evidence presented and sources cited. Check too if credible news outlets are carrying the story. If they are not, then be extremely skeptical.

  1. Check the author. Go deeper into the background of the author. A simple Google search is supposed to turn up old articles of the author, which can be easily evaluated for bias.
  2. Check the date. Fraudsters sometimes repost old legitimate news items to make it appear current and mislead people. Always check the day and the year to be certain.
  3. Check headlines. If a headline is too titillating to be true, it most probably is. Most fake news stories carry catchy, if unbelievable headlines designed to get clicks. As a rule of thumb, always be skeptical.
  4. Check with fact-checking websites. Alarmed at the spread of fake news, well-meaning groups have started putting up fact-checking websites. A quick check with these sites can go a long way in nipping fake news in the bud. Some of the more popular fact-checking sites are:

Snopes– Snopes is the grandfather of all fact-checking sites and has been debunking hoaxes since the 90’s. It has been the go-to Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation for as long as anyone can remember.

Politifact– PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times. The Pulitzer Prize winning website rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and other American public figures.

Fact Check– FactCheck.org aims to reduce deception and confusion in U.S. politics by checking the accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Poynter Institute– While not a fact-checking website in the strictest sense of the word, The Poynter Institute is a leader in distinguished journalism and produce nothing but credible and evidence based content.  If Poynter carries it, it is true.

Truth or Fiction– Very similar to Snopes. They tend to focus more on political rumors and hoaxes.

Source: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174