Imagine scrolling through Facebook or Twitter and finding a news article that talks about how your favourite company is about to be bought by their biggest rival. You are surprised, shocked and quickly share the article to your friends and family. You quickly message your friends on Whatsapp and tell them you want to talk about it. But you suddenly have a disturbing thought: what if the article is not accurate or true? What if it was just fake news? If you shared fake news to your networks, how will they trust you again?
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to make sure you do not become a victim of fake news. In this short article, we explore how you can distinguish between what is true and what is false.
Don’t take articles at face value. Make sure you check the information that you read online twice, or three times, or even more! There are plenty of ways to do this. You can do a few more searches on the topic you have just read about to make sure that it is reported in other reputable sources, as well as ask your friends whether they have seen the same news elsewhere.
Make sure that the source of the information is reputable. You can do this by digging deeper into the website you are looking at, to see whether there are broken links or images, and whether the web address in the page that you’re reading is suspicious. Most people who share fake news create specific websites that looks official but are not. You can double check the sources from other pages to make sure that they are who they claim to be.
Developing a critical attitude towards things you read online is important in a digital world. You should always ask yourself questions such as whether the article makes sense from a logical perspective, whether the information reported is trying to persuade you of a certain view, whether the author is biased against a certain angle and whether the story uses words that are too emotional or extreme.
Overall, misinformation is a huge problem for the world in the digital age and it seems like the problem is here to stay. If you become a smarter consumer of information, you would be able to remain ahead of your peers in the your ability to spot what is true or false.