Over the past year, the consumption and spread of fake news has become a wild fire. Not only is fake news financially motivated by publishers, it also inhibits our ability to make informed decisions and form opinions based on fact.
There’s another underlying and eroding factor to fake news that simply terrifies me; it’s one we don’t talk about or even admit to. The pull for instant gratification, satiation, and virality has become too much for us. Fake news fulfills our desire for click bait gossip and gives us a wow factor. It evokes our emotions: sadness, anger, or triumph and somehow, we’ve become satisfied and almost immune to it.
All the while though, the sanctity of professional journalism is crashing. Our respect and care for the truth is plummeting. Are card catalogue days, where we were forced to dig deep and research topics to uncover the truth, gone? And has our desire for due diligence disappeared along with it?
The days of card catalogues might be long gone, but the need for researching topics and ensuring the news you’re consuming is the truth, is not.
You’re right. Some “real news” (the fact that even has to be specified is sad) headlines may not be as exciting as fake news headlines, but I hate to break it to you: world events, tragedies, and presidencies are not here for your entertainment. Misinformation is not something to be taken lightly.
Facebook has taken step number one in combating the Fake News Epidemic, but it’s ultimately your responsibility as a respecting individual of not only our society, but our world, to spot it yourself.
10 Ways to Spot Fake News
- Always be skeptical of news headlines. No surprise that fake news headlines are catchy. Generally, they’ll be presented in all caps with exclamation points. If the headline seems extraordinarily unbelievable, it probably is.
- Double check the URL. A look-alike URL is an immediate warning sign of fake news.
- Watch for unusual post formatting. A fake news article may have multiple misspellings or an unusual layout.
- Always investigate the source. Check and see if the source the article is coming from is a reputable one. If the publisher is unfamiliar to you, do a little digging. Check out their Page or website and do your due diligence.
- Check the dates. Many fake news stories contain altered dates or timelines that don’t follow any sort of logical order. If it seems strange, it probably is strange!
- Don’t just glance at photos. Anyone with photoshop skills can doctor photos, manipulate images or even videos, or take a photo and use it out of context. Verify where the videos came from.
- Is it satire? It can be difficult to distinguish stories that have been written as humor or satire! Always check the source of the story and see if they’re known for writing satire or humor.
- Look at other reports. Check multiple sources to see if they’re reporting on the same story. However, I’ve seen reputable news outlets also fall victim to fake news stories simply because they didn’t do their journalistic duty of research. Always, always, always research topics yourself as well!
- Check for evidence. Investigate the author’s claimed sources and ensure their accuracy. Remember in school when you were made to cite your sources? It’s the same thing here! If the author has failed to name or credit “experts” or their story simply lacks reliable data, it’s probably fake.
- Some stories are false intentionally. This is where your own common sense, self-control, and responsibility comes in. Put on your critical thinking caps and stop playing in to fake news, simply because you’re too lazy or you simply don’t care enough to search for the truth.
Reporting Fake News
If you come across a story in your News Feed that’s believed to be fake news, Facebook now allows you to report stories.
- Click next to the post you’d like to mark as false
- Click Report post
- Click It’s a false news story
- Click Mark this post as false news
These news stories, disputed by third-party fact-checkers will not only be marked, but you can also check to see why the story has been disputed.
- Hover and click below the story that has been disputed.
- Click About Disputed Stories, or go directly to the independent fact-checking website!