A couple weeks ago one of my Facebook friends posted a news bulletin announcing the death of an actor. I had seen the actor that morning on live television and thought the post was false information. A few of the person’s contacts doubted it as well. We all responded to the post saying we thought it was fake. She took it down immediately, but I’m sure many people posted the same story on their pages.
24-hour news cycle
The 24-hour news cycle has its downfalls; offering false information is the biggest among them. Social media users are confused about how to tell what is real and what is not. It is important to know that what you are sharing is real. We need to know the truth now more than ever.
There are a few ways anyone can verify if something is real or not.
We love social media
At Social Squids, we love social media. When I see a rumor reported by someone on Facebook, I rarely take it at face value. Too many people, my own friends included, are taken in by fake stories and claims. If I see that someone has died or news of a plane crash or someone got a DUI, I immediately go to the two big social media sources for news – Facebook and Twitter. Twitter seems to scoop everyone on the news so I generally start there. Is the news item trending?
I love Twitter, but sometimes they get it wrong too. After I check Twitter I go to trending topics on Facebook. Next I check the news media sites. If everyone is running the same story, I feel like it’s probably true.
Look to the networks
If you can’t find a big story on CNN, MSNBC, CBS or the other major networks, it’s probably fake. Breaking news stories might not be online right away. But for the most part, the major networks know about breaking news almost immediately.
Try to find the original link or source of the story. Is it a reputable site? If you’ve never heard of it, that’s a red flag. The story might be fake.
Is the news a parody or satire? Sometimes parts of stories like essays on The Onion are taken out of context and reposted as news. NewsMutiny and the Borowitz Report are also popular parody sites.
News to confuse
Clickbait is news that is a question or statement is so titillating that you feel compelled to click on it. You then fall down the rabbit hole and end up reading a story that never answers the question you originally found intriguing. It’s a form of false information, a teaser headline with no actual story to back it up.
Other fake news might have a headline that doesn’t match the image or video. It may claim that one person was arrested, but the video is actually of different person getting arrested. It can also show a current story with old photos and the two don’t match. These stories are both misleading and untrue.
Foreign URLs are another tip off to fake news. If it’s something happening in this country, but you can’t find the story on the major news networks, check out the URL of the article.
Be responsible and question everything you read. Verify news with multiple sources before you believe it. Try your best not to spread rumors that have no basis in truth. In the world we live in today, you have to be a skeptic.