Fake news is a term often used to refer to fabricated news, found in traditional news, social media or non-reputable websites. There is no basis in fake news, but is normally presented as being factually accurate. Fake news is however, not a new phenomenon. Its rise and fame has been around since humans have been able to relay information from spoken word, to the first newspapers and now, to social media.
Below is a quick guide to identifying fake news:
a) Check the source;
b) Do not judge a book (or a news article in this case), by its cover;
Unreliable sites will often use misleading headlines to lure in readers and clicks. Before sharing a story with an outrageous claim, keep reading on the whole story. Some authors have a tendency to bury the lead in efforts to make the story more attractive. Credible and trustworthy sources should be used to back up the claim made in the headline.
c) Take a look at the URL;
Does the URL appear doubtful in some way? If so, this could be a tell-tale sign of a website that shares fake news, as some fake news websites try to mimic the URL, logo, and design of legitimate news websites, in order to trick readers.
d) Are other news sites reporting on The Story;
Chances are, if the majority of other news sites are reporting on the same story, it is at least partially true. Read multiple stories on the same subject to see what sources are being used and where the differences lie.
e) Be suspicious of sloppy writing;
If you are reading an article and the author uses five exclamation points at the end of a sentence, it is often fake news of some sort. Also be skeptical of an abundance of spelling or grammatical errors, or if the writer uses caps lock.
Most credible news sources have copy editors that will check for these mistakes before publication, and will also have rules restricting writers from using features like caps lock for the sake of professionalism.
f) Quotes – or lack of quotes;
A sure sign of credible journalism is the presence of quotes. This adds an additional layer of integrity, allowing readers to do some research on the individual quoted and decide if they are a reliable source of information. Absence of quotes is usually a sign of an opinion piece, either published as a blog post or a column, or of fake news.
g) Utilize media literacy sites;