In the days of print media, it was easy to notice when someone was telling a lie in their tabloids. Typically, the stories had outrageous headlines that made us laugh. In the last decade, these fake stories are no longer funny, but they’re manipulative.
With the rapid speed that information is shared in today’s world, it can be challenging to separate the news from the noise and the true from the false. While some sites, The Onion, for example, intentionally write satire, others intentionally disguise themselves as real.
As the 2020 elections are in full force, it’s more important now than ever to learn how to identify what’s real and what’s fake on your social media feed. In this article, we’ll go over six tips that will protect you from being hoodwinked.
Tip 1: The Source Has a Shady Reputation
Sites such as The Daily Mail and The Sun are known to be unreliable. These U.K. tabloids have massive internet followings and, despite their reputation, are trusted by many, especially in the United States.
Before you share an article, please do some research on the publication and make sure it’s known as a reliable site.
Tip 2: Other Stories from That Source Are Fictitious
If you want to check if a site is reliable, do a quick scan of headlines and the introductions of other articles. If you notice that some stories look obviously fake or incredulous, it probably means that that’s the general theme of the content that the site features.
Tip 3: Reputable News Sites Don’t Mention the Story
After you read a story that you think is interesting, type the headline in Google and see if any reputable or known news sources shared the same. If they haven’t, then chances are that it’s not real news.
If a site like The New York Times, CNN, or BBC run the same story, then it’s likely true. This is one of the easiest ways to check for accuracy.
Tip 4: It’s Extreme
As much as we don’t like to admit it, human’s like excitement. Stories that predict the end of the world are popular because they’re so exciting. Sure, some of these warnings are worth a read, but they certainly aren’t valid.
Recently, there have been many extremist sites that post stories to ignite fear and hatred of specific demographics. Please don’t buy into these stories; they’re not backed by reality.
Tip 5: The Story Is Too Funny to Be True
Unfortunately, usually, the news is sobering and not very funny. If an article is written in an especially entertaining tone, the goal was probably to attract readers, not tell the truth.
Sometimes, these stories will feature your favorite celebrities doing something crazy that you would never expect. The stories might feature a deep-fake video, with a CGI render of the star’s face on someone else’s body. While you can be entertained enough to read more, make sure you know that the story is satire.
Tip 6: It’s Too Good to Be True
While some stories predict the date of the apocalypse, other fake news tends to focus on the opposite. If you read a story about doctors finding a magical cure to cancer, there’s a high probability that it’s fake news.
Of course, some of these stories hold seeds of truth, but they tend to be blown out of proportion by these types of sites. While it’s more fun to believe that these are true, it’s generally smarter to be suspicious.
One of the most important lessons to learn in today’s media environment is learning how to identify fake news. Don’t get tricked and use these tips before you decide to share a story with your social media network.