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3 Tips for Recognizing Fake News Stories on Facebook

Nobody wants to be duped by a compelling headline, but in Facebook's fake news climate, the burden falls on you to be a discerning reader.

Facebook has been under fire lately for its proliferation of fake news. Unintentional though it may be, it has also offered little by way of filtration to weed out these spurious stories. Unfortunately, for better or worse (and probably the latter), Americans look to the social media site for their daily news. So how can you, as an honest user, continue to rely on the platform for your regular local and global updates without fear of falling prey to conspiracy theories and the shame of sharing in the spread of erroneous headlines? Here are three tips for recognizing the fakes.

1) Check the site!
Too often, a user’s knee-jerk response to a titillating headline is to immediately click “share.” No matter how tempting, please keep your trigger finger in check. Whether it’s the desire to be loved, followed, or to have your posts liked and commented on (after all, what stands to get a more widespread reaction than an outrageous story?), you’ll only end up the fool if the content is fake. It takes 5 minutes of research at most to investigate the source. There are websites dedicated to debunking the validity of various sites. But even if you don’t care to look those up, ask yourself a couple of simple questions: Does the URL seem strange or shady? Does it come from a reputable source like the Washington Post, or is it click bait?

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2) Check for sources
If you’re ambivalent about the site and still at a loss, investigate the most obvious components of the post itself. Who is the author? Are they entirely unheard of with no Internet resume of reliable material? Who or what does the article cite to back up its claims?

3) Who else is reporting on this story?
If all else fails, remember this: if there’s really a buzz or a story to tell, rest assured that everyone will be telling it. From CNN to The New York Times to The Guardian, if something major happened in the world, it’s their job to report on it. Granted, not everyone will agree, and not everyone will offer the same perspective or opinion, but in one form or another, you will find this bit of news elsewhere.