The tail end of 2016 saw the rise of a new way to effectively spread salacious information on the internet without fear of any repercussion. This method, termed as ‘fake news,’ involves writing something false. It can play on stereotypes and confirmation bias of readers. A lot of fake news has been shared multiple times through social media and has gone viral. The fake news phenomenon is here to stay and if like me you love current affairs, the chances that you were sucked in by false information is quite high. Therefore to avoid these pitfalls in 2017, here are some unique ways in which you can recognize fake news.
1. Guard your space with Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a unique way to ensure that you receive news from only reputable sources you trust. All you need to do is set alerts that will notify you periodically once specific, informative news from sources you like go live. The process can easily be done in 5 minutes.
For those who have a Gmail account, simply login, copy and paste the Google Alert URL (https://www.google.com/alerts), and type in your news items and then click “Create Alert.” This process also works for non-Gmail users but you will have to tie in an email address to receive your alerts.
2. Check links for credibility
A journalist’s reputation is built over years. A reputable journalist will definitely have left his or her footprint on the web. The footprint the writer leaves as well as the platforms you find their work posted on should determine the level of seriousness you attribute to such stories.
Check out the the links used in the articles. If these links do not ring a bell or are not associated with the .edu, .org or .gov suffix, disregard that news item without second thought.
3. Bottle in your biases
Humans are communal creatures and growing up in any society will definitely leave its mark on you. In most cases, these marks are preconceived misconceptions about a particular region, culture, food or religion. Even the most educated of us never truly shed that skin as we grow older. So whenever we see news items, be it subtle or not, that speak to these misconceptions, we may easily believe they’re authentic.
An interesting tip to combat our inbred biases is to be more open and accepting of other people’s point of view. This attitude should also be put in practice when reading headlines that suck you in due to their shock value. You can simply pass over reading the article, or crosscheck the facts it presents against those from more reputable platforms.
4. Fact check with facial and image recognition tools
This tip addresses those news items that make use of adulterated images to horrify or push a negative narrative during trying times. For example, during the failed coup in Turkey, multiple images were shared on social media platforms in an attempt to depict the situation. In reality, these images originated from different locations and timeframes; they were meant to horrify the public. These kinds of manipulation tactics are deceitful due to how believable they can sometimes be and play upon your limited knowledge on the topic.
But there is good news, quite a number of facial recognition software as well as image identification apps are now becoming popular on the web and, when in doubt, you can easily download one to help you trace the origin of certain images or recognize people in it.
5. Let extensions be your detectives
If you have gone through the earlier tips and believe the time taken to detect fake news using the outlined methods are time consuming, then browser extensions that detect fake news is for you. These extensions can be downloaded on your computer and installed. They then proceed to do all the hard work by scanning through news headlines and identifying the authenticity of a report.
The responsibility of keeping fake news items that can disrupt society’s well-being falls on our collective shoulders. It is truly important that we do not help the divisive plans of detractors by sharing suspicious news on our social media pages.
Image Credits :
Reading news in mobile phone via stocksnap.io
Featured photo credit: freepik.com via freepik.com