Fake news is everywhere – you see it on your social media feeds, and even on forwarded messages on your phone’s group chat. There’s always one person in your group who likes to send unverified news on child kidnappings in your local mall, stories of political unrests and latest cancer scares from what can only be described as dubious sources.

It was even named 2017’s word of the year by dictionary publisher, Collins, which describes fake news as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting”.

To thwart its spread, Malaysia recently enacted the Anti-Fake News Act, which carries severe punishments of jail time and a large fine.

Being able to spot fake news is a crucial part of digital literacy and is an important aspect of life in the digital age. Here’s a crash course:

1. Check the website and quality of the articles

1. Check the website and quality of the articles

Look at where the story comes from and read other articles on the site – are they well written with proper citations or are they riddled with grammatical errors?

You should also make sure that you’re on a legitimate news site.

Some fake sites use addresses and even logos that are similar to those of real news organisations.

For example, is real, while is not.

2. Is it the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

2. Is it the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Getty Images

Sometimes a fake news story can have a sliver of truth to it, but most of the facts and figures are made up.

For example, the event and the people mentioned are real, but the quotes attributed to them and other facts are simply made up.

To make sure, search for the same story on several credible websites to ensure nothing has been misrepresented.

3. Do a Google Reverse Image Search

3. Do a Google Reverse Image Search

Upload a photo to Google’s Image Search to see where else it has been used and for what purpose.

That will help you ascertain if a photograph has been doctored or is being falsely presented. Try it out here.

4. Do some independent research

4. Do some independent research

Check the questionable piece of news against other news sources or fact-checking websites.

Websites such as, and are essential sources that help debunk fake news, rumours and urban legends.

5. Make sure it’s not satire

5. Make sure it’s not satire

If the story is on a satirical website, you should be aware that the intent is humour and satire, and not to mislead.

Check that you’re not reading a satirical website like The Onion, or The Borowitz Report in The New Yorker

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