We as a society have successfully transitioned into the digital age. Our sources of information have become limitless. However, being at the threshold of a digital future, journalistic credibility is at its lowest and sensationalism is at its worst. These days, fake news has become a real menace to the modern internet as we know it. The internet has made sharing information and opinion much easier than it ever was. And many of these are regularly shared through social media networking. Websites who claim to report news have propped up all over the internet.
These so-called ‘news' websites are often agencies of propaganda which generally serve the interests of a group or an individual. Media Literacy is a term that holds little to no significance in the age of the internet. With countless outlets peddling false information, how can you be certain of the validity of the information you have received? There are certain methods which can help you determine the veracity of claims made by news sources. We’ve compiled some tips and tricks to help you understand how these agencies lead you into their site and how you can determine if the story is true or false.
First and foremost, do not be led astray by headlines written for their shock value. If the headline of an article sounds outrageously sensational, it is probably fake news. A reputed and trustworthy news source will generally avoid using such headlines. Ideally, a news source should be reporting news neutrally, without being overly dramatic. Headlines which try to capitalize on shock value are generally known as ‘click bait'. These headlines only work to attract hits from people on the internet.
Always check the source of a news link. There are tons of sites that use clever URL’s to make you think its an official partner or affiliate. A quick look at anything with a locked https address will usually tell you that site is official, but not always having the news agency info correctly spelled. If the website is some vague site you have never heard of, it’s probably is a bad source. Shady URL’s are also a clear indicator that the information is false.
If the news feed is quoting someone or citing another source, make sure you do some research before believing it or sharing it through your social media platform. If the person or organization quoted is not a verified expert in the subject, you have little reason to believe them. Politically charged content is most frequently garbled by untrustworthy sources. Not to mention the number of celebrities that have falsely died in 2018 alone is proof that fake news is spread through sharing false info. Even if it is just a joke, the bad intent launches a snowball effect which often gets the attention of mainstream news and can even be falsely reported likewise!
If a website or a page is known for supporting one side of the political spectrum, it is safe to assume that their information will serve some political propaganda. You see this a lot with new agencies that are presenting a biased opinion which isn’t news worthy at all. Even propaganda sites work like this painting the picture of their version with nothing mentioned for the opposition whatsoever. If you happen upon a news site that gives a prejudice opinion, they always list reasons why their opinion has fact and is indeed providing a clear look into any given subject without bias.
Fake images are also a dead giveaway. It is not very difficult to spot a fake image; heavily photoshopped images have a distinct look to them. The image might look pixilated or blurry and a credible news source would never publish those. There are several websites on the internet which can help you verify the information you receive from various news sources. Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com are some of the websites that help you check and verify facts. Social media and the internet have become very unreliable but there are two sides to a coin. It has also become very convenient to fact check and analyze a news source. Reverse Google image check and other tools can help. Easy access to information has the side effect of fake news and information overload but it has the benefits of filtering news, separating the genuine from the garbage.