We live in the age of fake news — both the really fake news that’s simply false and the kind of news that some people like to call “fake” only because they don’t like its hard hitting truth. As long as there’s money to be made from fake news (or political gain to be had), the problem isn’t likely to go away. And while there are plenty of fact-checking organizations, unless you are looking for their data, you aren’t likely to see it.
The term “fake news,” refers to the deliberate spreading of false news information with the aim to mislead people and to make money from having users click on a very attractive but misleading title or link in a social media feed (commonly known as clickbait). It seemed to come about when then Donald Trump kept applying the term to mainstream news sources that he didn’t like. And so, the saying FAKE NEWS seems to have struck a chord with a large segment of the world’s population now that would like to see more new organizations “tell it like it is” rather than spreading misleading social media posts that link to false news in an attempt to get page clicks to boost their ad revenue.
Over the last few months, Google started working with many fact-checking organizations to include links to their posts on their Google News site. That was a relatively limited program, though, and only available in the U.S. and U.K. Starting soon, the company is going to cast a far wider net where fact checking will be available globally and, in addition to Google News, it’s coming to the Google’s search results pages.
Sometimes it is not easy but I do have a few suggestions?
- So you want to ask yourself: do you trust the source of the information? It helps to keep a checklist of the organizations you trust and check often or the ones you don’t check often but know by reputation.
- Next, even it looks sort of like a news outlet you trust, you should still check for signs that it might be a hoax. Is it written in a strange way that you wouldn’t normally expect from that source? Check the URL and the design of the website for signs of misleading copycat design; maybe it’s a URL that’s sort of like the one you know, but with an unusual country code or a typo in it. As with websites, some Twitter accounts mimic mainstream media by switching letters that are hard to tell apart. And so with that in mind, look for Twitter’s blue verification checkmark to make sure the account is real.
- Finally, if you don’t know the source, look around for clues to whether it’s reliable or not.
a) If it’s a Twitter account, how many followers does it have, and is it a verified account?
b) If it’s a web page, do the URL, main page and “about” page look credible?
c) If it’s an e-mail notification, does the sender’s address look right? Is it worded strangely? Is it asking you to reply immediately with sensitive information?
Any of those questions should help narrow down the authenticity of a news organization helping you determine if it could be harboring fake news.
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