6 Ways to Identify Fake News in Your Facebook Feed
Fake news has been a hot topic ever since the 2016 presidential election, and more and more of it seems to be popping up recently.
We all want to see interesting, varied information on our Facebook pages, but the rising frequency of fake news is concerning, due to the spread of misinformation and scammy aspects practiced by fake news sites.
Fake news may seem difficult to control or to know what’s a phony news article — and if you should share it on your feed. When in doubt, follow these 6 tips to spot fake news:
- Check your source: be sure the news you’re reading is coming from a reliable source that you’ve heard of before. If it’s news that’s too good to be true, it probably is, especially if it’s partisan.
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- Trust, but verify: beyond leaving you vulnerable to fake news, it’s unwise to get all your news from just one source. If only one publication is reporting on a certain story, it’s probable that it’s fake. And if you only look at one news source, how will you be able to tell if they are the only ones reporting on it?
- Look out for poor aesthetics: if a web page is badly formatted or has ads for dubious products like testosterone pills or Bigfoot photos, you should be highly suspicious of the stories the site is “reporting on.” If the blog distributing the news can’t be bothered to make the news look presentable or work with legitimate advertisers, then how could their vetting process for stories be much better?
- Sniff out copycats: some fake news distributors will make sites that look like actual news sites, but are in fact bogus. For example, a website could buy the domain time.co, make the site look like time.com, and less observant newsreaders wouldn’t know the difference. This is damaging as it makes readers think they are learning from a valued source, but they are in fact listening to an imposter site that spreads scams, inaccuracies, and possibly virus to your device.
- Is the story satire? Another industry that has grown in the past few years is satirical news. Though the author who wrote it might have just been trying to be funny, people without a sense of irony could interpret the story as factual. If the story seems to strain credulity to an absurd degree, then it’s probably a joke.
- How is the quality of the writing? Trained journalists follow a set of journalistic standards in their writing. Beyond fact checking and citing sources, journalists are expected to have a decent quality of writing as well. If there are sentences in the article that are in all caps or use excessive punctuation (!!!!), it’s likely that the writer of the piece is not a true journalist. If the writer can’t be bothered with the rules of grammar, punctuation, and style — their overall journalistic integrity is probably questionable.
The spread of fake news leads to an industry that is shaped like journalism but traffics in lies to support a certain ideology or pushes unwanted adware. Whenever one reads a dubious news source, they are implicitly supporting scammers or unverified information. Sharing it only spreads that misinformation like a virus. Only by remaining vigilant can you do your part in stopping fake news.