As social media and the internet consumes our lives more, we tend to use them as a way to know the news. Unfortunately, you can’t be confident that news online is truthful. In this day and age, fake news has become more prevalent. Fake news is defined by Dictionary.com as false news stories, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared for the purpose of revenue or to deceive readers. Fake news is actually not a new thing. It existed long before social media according to CITS. What is new, however, is how rapidly it can be shared thanks to the internet and social media. While it sucks trying to find the real news, luckily there are ways to identify fake news. Specifically, five ways!
1. Take a closer look
When you stumble across an article that sounds crazy or exaggerated, check to see who published the article. Is it a reliable and credible source? Is it a source you are familiar with, like the NY Times? If not, do some digging. Check the website’s “About Us” page. If they are a satirical source, they usually will have a disclaimer. The Onion, which is a satirical source, has a disclaimer on its “About Us” page. Another way you can check is by finding information about the author.
2. Look beyond the headline
While news articles typically have eye-catching headlines, fake news tends to take them a step too far. They often have shocking or exaggerated headlines that strike an emotional response and compel the readers. Here’s an example: North Korea Will Open Its Doors to Christianity. Sometimes fake news uses all caps and exclamation points. You need to look beyond the headlines and read the whole story. If you are unsure if the story is false after reading it, then search the internet for reliable sources that confirm the accuracy of the headline and the story.
3. Check the facts
One way to check if the news is fake or real is to check when the article was published. Is it a current or old news story? Fake news stories with false information often contain incorrect dates or altered timelines. Following that thread, you should check if there were plenty of facts included in the news stories. There should be data, statistics, and quotes from experts included. If there is none, that is a huge red flag.
4. Check other sources
Have other sources picked up on the story? What do the other sources say about it? If the majority of other sources are reporting the same story, then you can confidently believe that the story is at least somewhat true. Though you should still read multiple stories on the same topic to see what sources are being used and where the differences lie. If there are sources in the original story, check if they are reliable or if they even exist!
5. Check your own bias
We all have biases – are your own beliefs affecting your judgment of a news story? We tend to read news stories that align with our interests and beliefs. One bias that occurs a lot when reading news stories is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias tends to lead people to put more stock in information that confirms their beliefs and discount information that doesn’t. Social media definitely does not help with our bias as it creates echo chambers by giving stories that match your browsing habits, interests, and opinions. The best way to avoid bias is to read from diverse sources and opinions, this way you can draw a more accurate conclusion.
Author: Marishelle Duverge
Marishelle Duverge was born and raised in Naples, Florida, and still resides there. She graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology and plans to get her Masters in Mental Health Counseling. She has always been passionate about helping people and believes becoming a Mental Health Therapist is her calling. She enjoys reading, singing, and listening to fictional podcasts during her free time.
You can find her LinkedIn here.