Getting genuine news used to be relatively easy before the Internet came around. The newspapers had strict monitoring, and therefore confirmed news before printing. Today, however, the case is quite different. Considering the ease of starting up a website, and blogging, a lot of people have done that. Many of these people use their websites as news outlets with no corporate body to directly monitor what they post. In fact, blogging is one of the most popular online businesses in Nigeria and even in the world today. Since these new websites are not directly monitored, they easily become sources of fake news. Readers read and get misinformed. In some cases, they could even have pretty serious effects. Now, you may be asking yourself the question of how to identify fake news. This post covers how to identify fake news on the Internet. Read along.
How To Identify Fake News
1. Confirm news articles from multiple sources
The truth is, this is about the best way to identify fake news. The bad news, however, is that these days, a lot of websites tend to just copy news articles from others. This means that if a particular website publishes any fake news, there is a tendency that the news will get to other websites. The carelessness with which Nigerians copy from other blogs and websites is alarming. Still, you can go ahead to confirm news articles from multiple sources. It may be time-consuming at times, but you will likely eventually find out.
2. Confirm from the social media handles of those involved
Many of the things we do today tend to find the way to our social media accounts. Some of the news articles we read are actually curated from posts on people’s social media accounts. An author from any news website may just go to a celebrity’s Instagram handle for example, and come up with news articles based on the posts on the account. Nigerian celebrities love to post pictures online on their birthdays, and that’s how many news bloggers get to know their birthdays. They then use the information to write up a news article. So, if you get news about a celebrity’s birthday, you can simply go to their social media handles to confirm. That way you’d have confirmed if what you read was fake news.
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3. Find out about the website
There are some websites that are generally known to be shady. These sites are unreliable, and whatever news article they post should not be taken with all seriousness. The sad truth is that even many of these websites have large internet followings. Some forums even give room to post any links, making these shady sites more popular. While it’s true that you may get accurate information from these sites sometimes, it is better to avoid them to make sure you are not getting fake news.
Some websites post satirical content. This can lead to confusion, especially considering the fact that many of them bear names that seem legitimate. If you come across a story that seems too weird to be true, it probably is not true. Be sure to check if the site has a satire disclaimer.
4. Read beyond the headlines
Research has shown that a lot of people only ever read the headlines of news articles. You should know that some headlines are merely clickbait. Some news websites use very catchy headlines, and if you are not careful, you may believe fake news. More interesting is the fact that some users even share these news articles after only reading the headlines. When you read the body of the news article, you can compare it with what is on the headline to confirm.
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5. Take news articles without sources with a grain of salt
WhatsApp today has become a channel/“source” of news to many people. Anybody can just go to a WhatsApp group to send any news article, verified or not. The sources of some of these stories are not included. If you ever come across news without the source, you should take it with a grain of salt. The sad news is that with the ease of sharing on social media comes the ease of sharing fake news. The same goes for Twitter. News travels fast on Twitter. This is because many people feel an impulse to break news over that medium even if the story is unconfirmed. Some people even intentionally spread lies to suit certain purposes. Social networks are already taking steps to tackle this problem though. If you see a news article on social media without the source, be sure to find out more first.
The internet has made it easier and faster to share news articles. However, this has also made it easier and faster to share fake news to suit certain agenda. It is now left for the reader to find how to identify fake news. Users have to find a way to discern what’s correct from what’s wrong. This could be done by following the five steps in this post. Good luck.
In summary, here is a list of how to identify fake news.
Top 5 Ways To Identify Fake News
- Confirm news articles from multiple sources.
- Confirm from the social media handles of those involved.
- Find out about the website.
- Read beyond the headlines.
- Take news articles without sources with a grain of salt.
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Author: Vincent Abolarin
Vincent is a Nigerian blogger with special interest in the history and current happenings in the country. When he is not blogging, he enjoys reading and playing computer games.