The term fake news exploded in popularity in the past few years. Although false information has also been present, this phenomenon has snowballed in recent years due to the prominence of social media.
However, does this mean we should stop using social media? The answer would be a no. Instead, we should attempt to prevent such news from circulating around.
Therefore, this article hopes to bring to attention a few steps you can take to combat the spread of fake news on social media.
We start off with a simple introduction of fake news. What exactly is fake news? Fake news can be referred to as fabricated news. This type of news, found in traditional news, social media or fake news websites, has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate.
The current situation
Although fake news on social media has been an issue of worry, several social media platforms have come up with measures to combat fake news online. For example, the Facebook News Feed has introduced a feature that helps you spot which stories are from reliable sources, and which articles are fake news. Twitter has also been in talks to install an AI mechanism to curb fake news issues.
Therefore, while fake news has been plaguing the internet, there are existing measures on social media to combat it.
7 tips to combat fake news online
Combating fake news tip #1: Ask the pros
Fake news these days have been designed to look almost identical to real news.
The Straits Times recently reported that 4 in 5 Singaporeans confident in spotting fake news but 90 per cent wrong when put to the test. This goes to show how hard it can be when differentiating which news to believe in.
Therefore, the use of third party websites such as FactCheck.org, International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), PolitiFact.com, or Snopes.com can be extremely helpful when determining which news to trust.
Combating fake news tip #2: Always check!
Statistics have put the number of people that share articles online without even reading through at 59%. That is perhaps the reason behind the fast speed at which fake news is being circulated on social media.
Do not be quick to share the newest article that pops out on your news feed, no matter how shocking the title sounds. Instead, do click the link to investigate the legitimacy of the news.
News coming from proper websites is likely to be more accurate. If upon clicking, the website seems unfamiliar, do your research before sharing the article.
Combating fake news tip #3: Look out for language
Spelling, grammatical punctuation errors could be an indication of a less reliable news site. To further confirm if a website can be trusted, do a google search to be extremely sure whether the site can be trusted or not.
However, bear in mind that fake news these days have been designed to look as authentic as possible. Therefore, it will be ideal to use this tip together with the other tips given in this article.
Combating fake news tip #4: Do not get misled by pictures
On the 18th of March in 2015, a screenshot announcing the death of founding father Lee Kuan Yew, appearing to be sent from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) went viral online.
Singaporeans were taken aback by this news. After all, there were pictures to back the claim up. However, it turned out to be a hoax.
Therefore, do learn from this incident. Do not be deceived by the seemingly authentic picture proofs you see on social media.
A common characteristic of fake news is photo shopped photos or images. Done by experts, these pictures might seem so real on the internet. However, it is important to fact check the images we see online. Be it Google Searching the image or using fact checking sites, there are multiple methods to boycott fake news on social media.
Combating fake news tip #5: Accurate dates
Other tell tale signs of fake news on social media would be the finding of edited or altered dates. It has not been unheard of that old news has been disguised as new news to sensationalize it on social media. Therefore, do try to steer away from suspicious looking articles with altered dates.
Combating fake news tip #6: Do your research
Most news articles will indicate the author and some references or sources at which the news came from. It will only take a few seconds to do your research about the cited sources. Therefore, do it diligently to prevent yourself from being a medium of fake news on social media.
An article that lacks any of the above (author name / sources) should raise red flags. If this happens do make use of other fake news checking tips to confirm the legitimacy of the article before sharing it on social media.
Combating fake news tip #7: Do not be misled by the number of likes and shares on social media
A post with 10,000 likes and a 1000 shares. Looks reliable does it not? However, do not solely look at numbers.
As mentioned above, fake news has been designed to look like real ones. Therefore, many could falsely share such news on social media. Furthermore, fake news on social media often have click bait titles, which explains their high numbers of likes and shares.
Therefore, do not be misled by the numbers you see on a post.
In conclusion, fake news online should not deter anyone from usage of social media. After all, as long as everyone takes caution about what they are sharing, the spread of fake news can be nipped in the bud!
thejakartapost.com, life, 10 tips to spot fake news
summer.harvard.edu, inside summer 4 tips spotting fake news story
straitstimes.com, 4-in-5-singaporeans confident in spotting fake news but 90 per cent wrong when put to the test
mustsharenews.com, fake viral stories/