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Published On: Sat, Feb 9th, 2019

Don’t take fake: 7 tips to avoid fake news in your feed

With all the factual and well-researched news reporting in the last few years on the unprecedented Brexit, American election, and various outbreaks, the circulation of fake counterparts which seems accurate has surged too.

Let’s be Honest. You are scrolling through your Twitter feed, you will probably never think about research and fact-checking. Thanks to the way we consume information and believe everything on the internet is legitimate and reliable, the amount of fake news is proliferating. According to Pew Research Center, people below 50 years of age read more than half of their news online and that below 30 years consume online news twice as much as TV news.

photo/ Gordon Johnson

Thousands of people circulate fake news every day just because of the eye-popping headlines that make it easier to share content instead of evaluating or reading it. But, this misinformation divides people and can have serious physical, mental, social and financial consequences. Also, it hurts your credibility in front of the people you know. However, we can stay away from these fake news in our social media feeds by following these 7 simple tips.

  1. Pay attention to quality and timeliness

Does the post contain a lot of grammatical, spelling, punctuation errors, or contains dramatic punctuation??? News coming from reputable sources goes through a high-standard editorial process for proofreading.

Does the story induce any powerful emotion in you like making you really angry or surprised? It is better to research the topic and read via other sources to make sure the content is real and reliable.

Is it a current story or recycled? Many times an older story is dragged out of context in fake news.

  1. Know which “news” sites are likely to be fake or biased

Knowing websites that are not reliable will always help you from believing any misleading information. Recently Melissa Zindars, an Assistant Professor from the University of Iowa compiled a list of False, misleading and Clickbait-y News Sources.

Vet the publisher’s credibility by checking their domain name, About us page, author details and academic citations standards. Does the news website have strange URLs or are trying to present themselves as established new websites like msnbc.com or bbccnews.com. Also, check for unusual domain names like .lo or com.co.

Is there any author with a history of false and misleading news? Does the Author has published anything credible in the past? These are all the ways of determining a fake news site.

  1. Check the sources and citations

Checking and verifying the website and sources is very important.

Is the news headline provocative or lack verifiable quoted sources? If the content in your feed is promoted on a website known for clickbait or misleading information then proceed with caution. Check if the same information is available on other sites. If not, then probably the journalistic jury would be out looking for the credibility of information.

Check if you can trace back the images by checking cited sources. In the era of Photoshop, It is important to make sure that the images are not altered or modified to meet the author’s point of view.

4.Distinguish opinion from fact

The difference between fact and opinion is that fact can be proved but opinion is an expression of someone’s feeling that can never be proved. Facts have actual existence and are based on evidence. Opinions are based on someone’s ability to perceive and interpret the things around us.

Opinions can be based on Fact but can never be a Fact. It is significant to distinguish between the two and consider opinion as an opinion and not a fact.

  1. Use fact checkers

For checking the credibility of the sources and new websites, a fact checker can really simplify your process. When you are inspecting the About us page or author details for content-integrity, you can use fact checkers.

You can use phone number lookup services to scrutinize the author and website contact details. You can use it to check the phone number and carry out your own detective work.

6.Seek out a wider variety of voices

Burst your own bubble:

An echo chamber or content filter is applied with every page you search, like, or follow, every person you friend and every post you share or tweet. It is important to add or delete sources and seek some contradicting or variable information.

The Social media algorithm:

Social media displays you the information which you had a reaction to in the past. It starts drawing more links from similar sources to your feed. Click on different reputable news articles to expand your voices.

Also, disable Google’s personalized search to avoid the extremely narrow range of information you are provided with.

  1. Don’t spread the word if you have a doubt

If you receive a post from your best friend or a person who you trust, you will probably believe it. If you share fake information, your friends will believe you too and the chain continues and expands rapidly.

After checking the website, sources and fact-checking the news article, if you have the slightest doubt pertaining to the integrity and the legitimacy of the news, do not spread it.

Conclusion

Fake news has wreaked havoc both physically and financially in the past. It can have devastating consequences. So, before spreading any arousing information in your feed, make sure you scrutinize it.

We all have comes across fake news in our social media feeds but we don’t realize or we don’t have the time to figure out what is fake and what is real. But the fake news can really change the real world, so to prevent it – we need to be always aware to recognize the truth from the fake.

Author: Mark Meyer

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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