10 Tips to Spot Fake News on Social Media
Fake news is not new. Since the beginning of print media, fake news has been an issue.
But the free internet and social media have given wings to fake news. Today, fake news can spread at an alarming rate and create a huge conflict.
The recent example of how disinformation can spread conflict in the Ukraine and Russian fight. Russia has used fake news as another powerful weapon against Ukraine. Russia has barricaded digital platforms and only allows its citizens to rely upon authorized resources for information.
As a result, Russia prevented rumors and used this opportunity to spread fake news all around Ukraine.
Fake news has a long history. But social media is now becoming a more powerful way to spread fake news. Since young people use social media more; thus, it is easy to attract them with the wrong information.
Therefore, if you are using social media today, you need to learn how to spot fake news on social media.
This guide is a small attempt to help readers understand the difference between fake and real news. So, read these tips carefully.
Different Types of Fake News
Fake news is information that is intentionally designed to manipulate readers’ perception of an event, fact or statement. As a result, the information looks like real news, but it is not verified or did not happen at all.
Fake news spreads like wildfire on social media, leading to serious conflicts. Disinformation is available on the internet in many ways, such as:
- Clickbait. It is a misleading headline or social media description that is generated to create web traffic. These stories are deliberately fabricated to attract readers.
- Propaganda. This information or idea is an intentional attempt to harm an institution, country, group of people or political ideologies.
- Imposter content. These stories are based on real incidents, but some facts are exaggerated to make readers believe in the fake story.
- Slanted news. This attracts readers to confirm their biases and beliefs.
- Satire. These fake stories are created for entertainment purposes only. They are the least dangerous disinformation sources.
- Misreading headlines. These stories are not completely false but distorted with misleading headlines and small snippets to attract readers to click on the news page.
The best strategy to spot fake news on social media is to understand the difference between real and fabricated news. There is no way to stop or block fake news on social media. Therefore, you should learn to spot fake news on social media to become a well-aware citizen.
Here are some easy tips for recognizing disinformation:
1. Check Information Across Reputable Resources
When you see any information on social media, don’t just immediately believe it or share it with your friends. You should first make sure that the information is authentic. To do so, search for the information on the internet and use reputable news sites to confirm it.
If the news is so important, it will be covered across different publications. So, just Google the news before believing it.
2. Examine the Source
Nowadays, fake news providers have become smart. They refer to authentic resources or publications to spread fake news. You must have received WhatsApp messages stating WHO said that or the world economics forum states that. But simply mentioning a reputable organization’s name in the news doesn’t mean it’s true.
Therefore, before following the news, you should check on the internet whether the resource mentioned in the information is authentic or not. Then, you can easily type the news headline with the organization’s name in the Google search bar to confirm it.
In addition, when you research online, always examine the web address of the webpage. This is the first red sign if the website has a strange domain like .infonet or .offer. The authentic domain names include titles like .com, .in, .au, .org, etc.
3. Search the Author
Another method to spot fake news on social media is by searching for the author. Check the credibility by checking how many followers they have and how long the account has been active.
You can also search for the author on social media channels. If the person is authentic and shares real information, they must have a social profile on different channels.
From there, you can monitor their other content and interact with other users to understand whether the person is genuine.
4. Beware of Sensational Headlines
Fake news is created to strike an immediate emotional chord among the audience. A sensational headline is the best way to motivate readers to click on the news article. Often people just click on the news article based on headlines.
Therefore, if you come across an interesting headline on social media that excites you click on the post. Take a step back and carefully read the entire article.
In addition, you are a reliable source to confirm the story and headline. Don’t let false and sensational headlines fool you.
5. Analyze the Photos
Another easy way to make fake news believable is by catching images or videos. In fact, most propaganda has been spread using fake photos or videos.
Therefore, if you find news related to a photo or video content, you should properly analyze it. Zoom in the photo and try to find dissimilarities in it. Fake visuals always have distorted color contrasts, unequal lighting or low resolution.
In most cases, viral videos are fabricated, or some parts of the video are removed to create sensational news. Therefore, you should search for videos on other portals to confirm their trustworthiness.
6. Ensures the Story Is Not Satire
As previously stated, some fake stories are created for entertainment purposes only. Many sites publish funny stories about politicians and celebrities to attract readers. Most of these stories are not real and are created to simply humor audiences.
Therefore, before categorizing a story as fake, ensure that it is not satire. To do so, you can check other content published on the website. Also, you can go to social media and get more information about the brand.
7. Don’t Believe the headlines
Half information is always dangerous. Thus, don’t judge a story based on its headline. As already discussed, headlines are often fabricated to obtain more clicks.
Therefore, you should read the entire story and cross-check all facts, expert quotes, official statistics and other details shared in the post. Once you are fully satisfied with the content, only then believe it and share it with your friends.
8. Keep your personal beliefs aside
Develop a critical mindset and analyze fake news without letting your personal beliefs cloud your judgment. Biases can influence your judgment and the way to respond to information.
Since social media creates your feed based on your interest. Thus, keeping your personal beliefs aside while spotting fake stories on social media is hard.
However, you should think rationally and critically when reading news on social media. If the story is persuading your emotions or sending you to another site. It is probably fake news.
9. Watch Out for Sponsored Content
Make sure that the content you are reading is not sponsored content. Sponsored stories often have catchy job titles and photos. They look similar to general news stories, but their main agenda is to promote a specific product or reach out to targeted audiences.
According to the GDPR guidelines, it is essential for websites to tell readers if they share any sponsored content or affiliated links. Therefore, look for sponsored content messages on a web page’s top or other areas.
In addition, some of these articles are designed to send malware to readers’ devices. Thus, don’t click on any news that seems interesting without checking its source or author.
10. Use Fact-Checking Sites
If you don’t have time to check every fact in a news article, several fact-checking websites are available to help you out. These websites use independent fact-checking tools to research the accuracy of the shared information across reputable media sources. Some of the popular fact-checking sites are:
- PolitiFact: It is an award-winning site trusted by politicians to check data accuracy.
- Fact Check: This website is managed by the Annenberg Public Policy Center to check the accuracy of political claims.
- Snopes: It is the oldest and most popular debunking site on the internet that targets urban legends, memes, news stories, etc.
- BBC Reality Check: The website belongs to the British Broadcasting Company, checks news stories and tests their authenticity.
Fake news is a big threat to humanity and society. These news stories spread hatred and divide society. Therefore, it is essential for everyone to know how to spot fake news on social media.
We have just shared 10 easy tips to spot fake news on social media. However, the best tip is to be a critical thinker and never trust information without verifying it.
That’s it for now! For more helpful guides, keep on following this website.
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