A recent problem that is sweeping the internet, social media in particular, is fake news. More and more websites are taking advantage of readers by presenting misinformation that is intended to draw interest and earn them money, while also promoting certain agendas.
It is very easy to be fooled by fake news, and if you aren't on guard, you will fall for it more times than you think! Luckily, there are actions you can take to make sure you aren't a victim. Here are some easy to follow steps that will help you identify fake news.
There is an abundance of unreliable sources that pump out news on the internet on a regular basis. If you read an article online, you should always take notice of the source that is presenting it. Is it a respected source, with a history of reporting relevant and truthful information? And if the article is citing other sources for their information, it is always worth your time to investigate these third party sources by looking them up and trying to gauge their reliability based on your research, rather than blindly accepting their word as gospel. A way that readers are often duped into believing a source is legitimate is when a website or a social media account attempts to pass itself off as someone else, who has built up a respected reputation. Always make sure to look at the URL and/or the handle of the source to make sure that they are really who they say they are, and are not simply an imitation.
Often, titles of articles can say one thing, while the article itself paints a very different picture. Rather than reading a title and taking it as fact, it is always important to read the entire article to get the full picture of the situation, rather than simply accepting the title at face value. Often, different news providers that are reporting on the same story will have to wildly different titles, depending on their agendas. So it is always important to make sure you actually read the entire article so you can judge the story for yourself.
Looking at the author can be a very effective method of determining whether an article is fake or not. A respected author will have their own page where their history and their qualifications are noted. An article without an author noted or with an author that doesn't seem to have any quantifiable history is often one that cannot be trusted.
Often articles that are completely out of date are circulated, leading readers to believe that the contents of the article are relevant today. While the articles may not exactly be lies, as they were true at a certain point in time, those circulating them today are looking to mislead the reader. So always make sure to check the date that an article is published, to make sure that you are reading something that is up to date and relevant to you today.
Satire sites are very common nowadays, and often exist to give a bit of comic relief to readers. However, there are many popular satire sites that don't make it clear to readers that they are satire, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing one of their stories is real. To avoid this, make sure to look at the top of the page in the header, and also at the bottom at the footer, for any sign or message that states that this site is satire. Most of the top satire websites have this, as it is a legal requirement for them to do so. If you cannot find it, a simple Google search asking if the source is satire will often do the trick.
In this day and age, with the advent of social media and with everyone online, it is very unlikely to find a story with only one source reporting it. Everyone is looking for the next scoop, and whenever a story gets out, there are likely to be hundreds or even thousands (depending on the field) of different entities reporting the news. News reporters usually have their own sources and ways of confirming if news is legitimate, so if a number of different respected sources are reporting the same thing, then chances of it being true is a lot higher. But if its just one solitary source, it lends credence to the idea that it is an unverified story and not completely believable.
Everyone wants clicks to their site, as that is what generates money. However, some sites are willing to make up stories to get those clicks. If a title sounds like it is so absurd that the only reason it is there is to get as many people to click on it as possible, then it has a chance of being clickbait. Clickbait articles have a higher chance of being fake, however you should probably do the other steps mentioned above to really confirm to yourself if whether is fake or not.
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