Published on December 23, 2016
Can you tell a hoax when you see one?
Last time, we talked about internet etiquette. Today, I'm back to address another issue in social media-land: the spread of FAKE NEWS.
It's prevalent in Facebook and Twitter nowadays, and for some reason, many people have fallen prey to them! This results in misunderstanding and needless argument that could be prevented if we all begin to be more mindful of what we read.
In the Philippines, the most popular fake news sites include Adobo Chronicles, Agila News, Filipino Freethinker, Mosquito Press and The Professional Heckler. Worldwide, you have sites like The Onion. These sites use satire in their articles, which means that while they use real-life (usually trending) events or people to tell the story, much of it is made up or twisted to make a point. Satirical pieces are mostly opinion pieces or commentaries, if not written simply for entertainment purposes.
But it's not all satire. There are sites or groups that simply make money off of fake news (through ads on their website). These websites are prone to use clickbait marketing. They write what they think people want to read, and it doesn't matter if it's not true.
Don't waste your precious data reading or sharing false news! Here's a simple four-step guide to help you identify them:
Check your source
Where do you usually get your news from? An online newspaper? Your social media feed? Online groups? Wherever you may be getting them, it pays to be sure!
Are the reports written by anonymous authors? Fishy! Have they been around long enough? It matters, too. Is it openly satire? When in doubt, check the About. Websites that use satire are almost always easy to identify—just look at what their "about" page or tagline says. Adobo Chronicles explicitly states that they "spice up" news with figments of their imagination. Agila News' tagline claims that they won't let "facts get in the way of a good story".
Was a particular news site flagged for reporting false news before? Hmm, research, research, research!
Read the article, not just the headline
Of course, a one-liner is much more convenient to read and react to than a full article but then again, you lose sight of context. The point of the article may be completely different than what you'd assume just by reading the headline. If it's too good (or too nasty) to be true, there's a high chance it is.
Check the date (and other details)
Real news can be used to misinform, too. I've lost count of the many "Walang pasok" announcements that have been re-shared and recycled from past years' typhoon updates and holidays. (Spell P-A-A-S-A.)
Images are also often the subject of contention. There are instances when a news report includes the wrong image. It could have been for two events that may be similar in a way but held in different times, for different purposes or by different parties.
A quick way to check this is to do a Google image search with the image you're suspecting. Simply click on the camera icon and paste/upload the image, hit search and voila! You get links to articles or pages where the image was used.
Check the source's source
Another way to tell if a news site is reputable is by the sources they use. Unlike celebrity news which uses unnamed "insiders", the hard news section needs to name its sources for credibility. If you want to know how reliable your source is, find out who their source is!
These are just some of the ways to help spot a fake.
Did you know? Facebook will also start banning fake news sites. This does not mean we stop doing our part. We still have to be vigilant to help stop them from spreading.
Do you have more tips to share? Feel free to comment!