From ‘Reality TV’ to ‘Alternative Facts’, it is hard to determine fact from fiction today. If you have family or friends who are professional journalists, you know citing sources and reporting facts is a sacred creed not to be broken. Legitimate news sources may not share news we all like to hear, they may inflate circumstances, they may be guilty of focusing on ratings. Yet, making up stories to intentionally deceive is not a laudable option to this group.
It is primarily the internet, blogs, and social media sites that have proliferated this unnerving practice of fictitious or fake news. Because of the viral nature of the digital and mobile platform, fake news stories are posted and shared many times over, without question of the source.
8 ways to determine if an article is fake news:
- Domain Name: Examine the domain name of the site that posted the news. Scams often use a similar name to reputable media. For instance abcnews.com.co is a known fake news site attempting to trick people to thinking they are abcnews.com
- Fact-Checking: Run the story through known fact-checking websites. Try the search engine Hoaxy currently in Beta. Or try recently acquired by Facebook, Snopes.
- Read quotes: Does the author use “sources say…” instead of citing true numbers, studies, officials or industry professionals?
- Who is the author: Research the author of the story. Fake news writers won’t have other information in browser search engines. Real media reporters and writers have online brands and recognition. Even interns will have the beginnings of a personal online brand.
- Who runs the website: Check if there are links that will lead you back to who actually runs the website where the article was posted. Is there an About Us page, or references? Reputable news sites will always include contact and marketing information.
- Photos and graphics: Do the graphics and photos look accurate? Could Photoshop tricks be at play? Have stock photos been used? Do they lead you somewhere else off the story?
- Videos: If there are videos embedded, check their original source and date. Look for any splicing, videos can be manipulated as easily as graphics.
- Posted elsewhere: If you don’t find the video or the actual news story in question anywhere else online that is a strong clue it is fake. News media spread stories far and wide, not just on their own sites. Fake news stories rely on others to share it.
- Self-Hosted: Check if the website is a self-hosted Weebly design or WordPress site. Not that all WordPress sites are cause for concern, but WordPress is an inexpensive simple option to post quickly and take down down.
- Grammar and Spelling: Real news stories go through many steps of editing and seldom contain errors, especially blatant ones.
Is it Fake? Stop it from spreading!
Once you discover it is most definitely a Fake News story or a fake photo, flag it. Slate has created a Chrome extension, called This is Fake, that you can click if you discover a fabricated news story. The tool allows you to identify a fake story and then report it to your friends.
This is our chance to take back the internet and return some integrity to the real news media. When you connect “This is Fake” to your Facebook account you can flag the fake stories to the Slate “This is Fake” moderators.
Be a good citizen – stop making fake stuff famous!
Tips source Lifewire.