Thanks to the Internet, a continuous and endless supply of news is at our fingertips around the clock. Attention-grabbing headlines on Facebook make claims about natural disasters, epidemics, cancer cures, politics and movie stars. But reader beware: many online news stories, while captivating, are totally fake!
Before the advent of the Internet, when people got their news from newspapers, magazines, television and radio, it was easier to know what news was real and what was fake. Most people knew that if you read it in the Enquirer, the story was a hoax. Today there are few checks and balances to prevent any outlet from posting online articles that are made up of false facts and information.
Tips to Sniff Out Fake News
Don’t let yourself be misguided by false news or, worse yet, be embarrassed by sharing a fake news story online! Follow these tips to become a media savvy consumer and purveyor of news.
Check out the source – Who published the story? A trusted news agency like the Washington Post, New York Times or CNN…an unknown source…or a source that is known to publish satirical news stories such as The Onion or ClickHole? Note that The Daily Mail and The Sun, both UK tabloids with large Internet followings, are notoriously unreliable sources. If you’re not sure about the source, visit its homepage and read the “About Us” section.
Verify the story – If it sounds outrageous or even slightly questionable, do an online search to see which other reputable news outlets are covering the story. If you can’t find the story elsewhere, it’s most likely a fake.
Look at the site’s name – If the site has an odd domain name ending in “com.ru” or “com.co,” then don’t trust it. Some sites try to trick users by using a URL that is close to a legitimate news site, but is slightly off, so look carefully.
Read the comments – If a story is fake, people will often say so in the comments.
Think before you share – Many fake news stories are meant to elicit emotional responses. If a story makes you angry, take a deep breath, count to ten and verity its authenticity before sharing.
Validate or debunk – Check out the following resources for spotting fake news:
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