How to Tell Real News From Fake News

You cannot scroll down your Twitter or Facebook feed without passing seemingly hundreds of “fake news” articles and just as many videos. Some of it you will blindly scroll past, but other headlines will jump out at you and you will find yourself reading an article on Trump’s latest drama or on chocolate harvesting in the Andes. The problem is that now there are so many thousands of “news” sources, it is difficult to know fact from fake. Hopefully by now everyone knows not to take The Onion seriously, but there are still many other sites that make it more difficult to tell the difference.

Fake news is false stories and articles, usually spread on social media. They are often used to influence political views or are made as a joke.

I was so glad to be scrolling down my Facebook feed and see a video that actually aided me in how to spot what is real and what is fake in the media! The news website, Quartz, had posted a video on a class that is being taught in schools based on a curriculum made by The News Literacy Project. The class' goal is to teach how to tell good journalism from bad journalism. Some of the guidelines given (by the kids taking the course!) in the video are to watch for typos and credible sourcing, biased opinions and go to multiple sources to get the full story and prove its validity. I think the biased opinion tip is an especially important one. Too often, sources want to prove a point, change opinions or simply be popular and, thus, don’t report the full story or sometimes skew the research and content. If you want facts and truth, there can be no bias.

Upon further research, I found even more tips on how to avoid fake news on social media and beyond. Immediately, check the source itself to see if it has a mission, contact info and any other legitimate factors. Also, check the date to make sure it is not old news that simply sounds similar to current events. A common example is when old images were being spread about Hurricane Harvey and Sandy that were actually from previous natural disasters. In both cases, the images had been taken from a previous article or the article had resurfaced after being written at an earlier date. Checking the date is an easy way to avoid reposting outdated content. Another tip is to pay attention to whether or not the article is satire. If it seems far too outlandish or provoking, it may very well be a joke.

It is so important to be informed about what’s happening in the world. You cannot make change or see a better world if you don’t pay attention to current events. You need to be informed on what is affecting you and what is affecting others. So, implement these tools when you’re scrolling through pages of mindless content and sharing! Know fact from fake.

Photos from Pexels