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”.
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
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, abcnews.go.com is real, while abcnews.com.co is not.
2. Is it the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
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
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.