Fake news is becoming something hard to deal with in our era, thanks to social media. And people would also claim some news is fake, especially if it doesn’t favour them — politicians, especially. So then how do we spot fake news as we live our lives on social media every day?
The thing is, some people can tell which news is fake but most people don’t have any clue on spotting fake news. Thus this article is going to give a few ways to quickly identify that a certain headline or post or tweet is not worth following.
Note that there are also sarcastic posts around the internet which are genuinely made to bring humour. Unfortunately, this kind of news is also sometimes labelled as fake news.
So how do we spot fake news, discern which is satiric and which is true?
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How to spot fake news on social media
Fake news is said to have four forms and knowing these forms will help know whether some news is fake or not.
1. Factually Incorrect News
The foremost form which is basically the meaning of fake news is factually incorrect “facts”. This is probably the most common form of fake news out there and the easiest to figure out. Such news usually circulates on Facebook and WhatsApp.
This kind of news usually has wrong facts regarding people, dates, places, etc. And it is easily verifiable with a simple Google search. It is also advisable to refer to official social media pages of subjects in the news (persons, organisations, the government, etc.) and their official websites as well.
Note that satiric write-ups could also fit this description.
2. Incomplete News
Incomplete news is another way to spot fake news on Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp especially. News that is taken out of context can also be classified as incomplete news, thus, fake news.
Less disastrous as it may seem, incomplete news is a major source of misconceptions for the public. To know if the news item holds the complete truth or not, refer to the complete source of information.
3. Doctored News
This is fake news climbing onto a higher level. The truth is picked and rebranded to suit whatever narrative they want people to believe. Usually, images or videos are altered so to fit the pollution. And this requires some technical skills to fish it out.
You’d want to use a tool like the Google Reverse Image search to know whether the images are related to what the news is saying and how true is the news itself.
Utilise the reverse image search tool by following these steps:
- Launch the Chrome browser and type images.google.com in the address bar
- Drag and drop the image in question into the search bar; or
- Click on the camera icon and either paste the image URL or upload the image directly
- Press enter
The results will include a number of images related to the one you uploaded. You can then compare to find out the truth. You can also check the version of that image used by trusted sources and on what subject did they use that image.
For altered audios and videos, that would need the assistance of professionals like investigating agencies.
4. Biased News
Now this one here is kind of difficult to discern the genuineness because they usually have the truth skewed to suit their narrative. Since it contains only a tilted truth and a lot of people believing it, going public about it be fake can backfire.
Biased news usually spreads divisive messages. Here are few ways to spot fake news in the biased category:
- Look at past trends and statistics, if a future assumption is made.
- Since biased news is mostly political in nature, it is better to prefer court orders and investigation reports for neutral results.
- Don’t believe anonymous sources until more than 3 independent and trusted sources report on the subject.
There you have it. Since there isn’t time to verify fake news all the time it is better to get your news from reputable publishers.
Lastly, let your friends and family also know how to spot fake news on social media.