Web Content Manager
The internet is filled with all kinds of crazy news stories and headlines that are completely bogus. We have seen fake news trend a lot in this past election and many are familiar with Facebook’s fake news epidemic that came out just days after the votes were accounted for. Many people argue that fake news is what changed this election because social media was a major platform for candidates. This made social media a major player in this election more than ever before. In the past people relied on TVs and newspapers for accessing information.
In this digital era, most of the news we get is from the internet and social media. Clearly this has made news more vulnerable to “alternative facts.” Fake news isn’t going to go away but we can get better at spotting it. In order to make sure you see correct information, consider some of these the next time you see a fishy headline.
Don’t just read a headline and assume. You know what they say about assuming. ‘It makes an a-’… You got it. Read the article behind the headline. Writers think about headlines that will catch your attention and make you interested in reading further. I do it myself sometimes because I want to attract people to my pieces. If you see a really strange headline, read into it. Don’t make initial assumptions of something you haven’t read. Get the facts then make your judgements. Looking at the comments to see what other people have said as well can help. It’s overwhelming because everyone on the internet has an opinion but it’s worth looking at to see what the other side of the issue is saying and have a deeper understanding
Look at the source. You would think this would be an obvious one but it really isn’t. There are some people that repost false facts which goes viral really quickly. After something goes viral, there is no way in monitoring the impact it has had and sometimes the damage has already been done. If a source looks fishy to you, research the topic from a credible source like the politifact or FactCheck. These platforms were made to be non-partisan fact checkers. They fact check anything from any president or important figure and are an unbiased way to validate information.
Check the author and the date. There is a lot of dated stuff online and we all know that so much can happen in a few years. Fake news isn’t always fake, it can simply be dated. We have seen people do this today. They take a new story from five years ago and say “hey this is what [this person] said about [this topic]! This is how they feel.” No, it’s not always the case. Stories like that get twisted and many of us make the mistake of making preconceived judgements.
Is it supposed to be funny? It can be a challenge to figure out what’s satire and what’s real. Especially when everything seems way too insane to be true. I’m still waiting on Ashton Kutcher to jump out and tell us we are all being punked but sadly, that’s not the case. When it comes to news, many people have clear delivery styles. Trevor Noah or Steven Colbert are perfect examples of satirical news. They take real news and make it funny by adding jokes and other things that may not be true. When you watch things like that it’s important to keep in mind that behind all of those laughs is a real story. Be curious and figure out what that is. It’s a lot easier to tell when something is supposed to be funny when you’re watching it but consider the author and if you don’t know who they are, look at their past work and who they work for. And it goes without saying, but “The Onion” is not a credible source.
It’s your responsibility as a voter and citizen to be aware of the facts that are out there. If the news look suspicious we need to do our part to uphold journalist accountability and we need to make sure the information we are accepting is true.