Fake News! How To Spot It

Posted on May 31 2017 - 10:20am by Ashlea Curley
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Have you ever scrolled through Facebook or Twitter to find an article featuring your favourite celebrity doing something that you just can’t quite believe? Well, that could be what is known as fake news!

Fake news has become a common issue over the past few months resulting in a lack of trust in the media. In November 2016, Donald Trump first ignited the discussion when claiming the CNN broadcaster was “fake news”. Since then, he has called other news outlets fake news on his Twitter account, such as The New York Times. Today, fake news can be marked as any news story that you share on social media. The problem is that it could be made up and by sharing it, you could be helping people to believe a false story.

To make sure you’re not sharing fake news just follow our few simple tips on how to spot it:

URL

Pay particular attention to the website’s URL- genuine sites use common endings like .com, .co.uk, .net, .org etc. Complicated URLs could be a bad site sign.

Finding a genuine source of information can be tricky with many websites advertising fake news stories. However, if the URL is owned and ends in .co.uk or .com then you could be safe. Other websites usually have an unusual address such as .com.co. You should check who wrote the article, if it is a known journalist who you know publishes reliable sources. It is also recommended that you check other stories advertised on the website. They could be unrealistic and help you realise the article is fake.

Clickbait

Headlines are tricky! Everyone wants your attention- so often the information in a headline is misleading, just to get you to click- classic clickbait!

All journalists know that it is important to grab the reader’s attention with their headlines. For digital journalism, this technique has been used by website owners who are paid per website views. Journalists tend to create fake stories which grab the reader’s interest to click on the website – this is known as clickbait. The reader clicks onto a website just to discover that it is an advert or a misleading story.

facebook page

Before you share something on social media- do a little research beforehand. Re-sharing ‘friends’ posts could actually do more harm than good. For example, the police are discouraging sharing missing people posts unless from an official source.

When you first come across a story that you’re not sure is true, you should always search for other reports. It becomes a common issue on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter where fake stories are shared without the user doing research. Google the story to see if you can find any other publications who have published the same story before sharing. However, Facebook has now began a movement to ban fake news from user’s news feeds. They encourage their users to report any fake news stories to help banish fake news altogether.

expert opinion

Expert opinions and quotes gives an article authenticity- may be worth checking that source though

Quotes are another resourceful way to check if a story is fake or not. Firstly, check for the amount of quotes used, and then, who is quoted. Most publications have a list of experts for what they write about. These experts should easily be found with a quick google search with their quotes used in several sources. If you cannot find the experts or professionals, then they may be forged.

Sharing

Another telltale sign? Photos! Is it relevant? Is it just to grab your attention?

Pictures are used to illustrate a story or interview with a public figure. So each news story should be accompanied by a photograph. Fake news often uses random photographs from another story to encourage readers to believe it is true. To check if the picture is reliable to the article, you can right click the photograph and choose google search this image. There you will either find similar articles, which suggests the story is true, or different stories to the original that suggests the news story is fake.

With hundreds of news stories birthing every day, it is almost inevitable that some will be fake. As a community, we should follow these steps and take care when sharing news stories and raise awareness for fake news. Sharing is caring but no one wants rumours spread about them, nor do we like to be misled so only give something your seal of approval if you truly believe it to be true or of interest to others.

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