Manipulating information through the media, whether intentional (disinformation) or unintentional, is not new. However, digital technologies have fueled misinformation and disinformation due to the rapid rise of digital media, online news outlets, and social networks in recent decades. On the internet, fake news has become a significant issue. New tools to recognize and avoid fake news are being created as technology catches up. Furthermore, there are methods to identify fake news.
What are the Various Sorts of Misinformation?
False information is classified into three categories:
- Misinformation is the dissemination of false or incorrect information that was not intended to harm you. You may make false information trustworthy by sharing and spreading it, and hence it is necessary to avoid fake news.
- Fake News is information or news that is false or created and cannot be verified through sources, facts, or quotes. Hoaxes, conspiracy theories, false websites, clickbait pages masquerading as legitimate websites, memes, YouTube channels impersonating official channels, and "zombie claims" are all examples of this (photos or postings that have been modified or changed to appear real and continue to circulate on social media).
- Information created to deceive, lie, or support the agenda of a person or a social/political group is referred to as disinformation. It's skewed information developed with the purpose to hurt you, similar to propaganda used for "brainwashing."
Misinformation and deception are used to elicit a reaction (emotional response) and a response (action) (share content). When something triggers strong emotions in us, it's easy to spread misinformation without even realizing it.
How to Check the Accuracy and Avoid Fake News?
Always look at the source or "author" of the stuff you're looking at. A trustworthy and respectable source:
- is authoritative and gives in-depth, evidence-based information
- is unbiased and takes a balanced approach
- is well-known and has earned a reputation for being trustworthy through time
- peer-reviewed articles or "scholarly journals" (pieces authored by an expert and vetted by a group of specialists)
- government or publically sponsored organization reports, fact-sheets, or multi-media
- academic research papers and databases
- books and libraries are examples of reputable sources
Trustworthy firms hire teams of committed employees to research, examine, and validate facts to ensure that the information they provide is accurate and legitimate and identify fake news.
How to Spot Fake News?
On the internet, how to identify fake news has become a huge problem. The term "fake news" usually refers to erroneous content presented as news that lacks verifiable facts or sources. However, it is difficult to define. A fake news report may contain some truth, but it may omit critical details and present only one point of view.
It could be phrased in such a way as to divide and incite people. Some people use the term "fake news" to describe any information they don't believe is true. Knowing how to avoid fake news can be tough in an age when "fake news" is used to demonize any story you don't agree with, and misinformation is used to sell, swindle, and terrorize people. Fortunately, if you maintain your composure, you can usually tell if the information is accurate or not. And we're here to help you out with these five ideas:
1. Look Into the News Source
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Regardless of whether it's Facebook, Twitter, or another platform: You will frequently come across news from a page that you have never seen before. If this is the case, you should research before trusting and/or disseminating the information. Consider the following questions on how to avoid misinformation going rounds:
- Was the report made available on a credible website? Is there anything else in this room?
- What does the imprint or "About Us" part of the page look like?
- Is the author's name familiar from other respected news sources?
- How does the URL appear?
2. Develop a Critical Mindset
One of the reasons people accept dodgy news is that it appears credible, frequently more so than the genuine article. They typically have a captivating headline that is meant to shock or emotional appeal to the reader. That is why it is vital to keep your cool to avoid fake news. Instead of reacting rashly, try to think about the message carefully.
Examine the message more closely and consider the following:
- What was the purpose of writing this communication in the first place? Do they want to sway my opinion?
- Are they attempting to persuade me to buy something?
- Am I being redirected to a different website?
- Is it covered by other news sites?
3. Pay Attention to the Sources
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Many quotes, dates, and facts will appear in a well-researched report. Serious news will not be afraid to cite expert opinions, poll results, or statistics. If the "expert" is a stranger or a friend of the author, there are no sources, and everything is based on hearsay, you should be skeptical of the content. Is there any evidence that the events mentioned in the article occurred, or were the facts made up or distorted?
4. Keep An Eye Out for Phoney Photos
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Frequently, shady news is accompanied by shady images. These should emphasize and confirm the article's "facts," while modern image processing algorithms make it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit photographs. There are a few things to check for to avoid fake news:
- Check to see if the shadows are cast correctly
- To identify fake news look at the image more closely if there are any persons or objects with weird frayed edges
- A Google Reverse Image Search can also be useful. After the images have been altered, the originals can be found
- Look at the image's meta-data. Exifdata.com, for example, can help you figure out when and where the photo was taken
5. Is Anyone Else Reporting On It?
Reports abound on big topics such as elections or global disasters such as the coronavirus pandemic. It's difficult to keep track of everything and distinguish between what's vital and what's not to avoid fake news. If you come across a message that includes entirely new information that you have never heard of before, it is best to check other websites to see if it has been reported on to identify fake news. Check the information against what Reuters or other trustworthy sources have published, and double-check it.
How to Avoid Fake News?
Stop! Also, double-check your facts before sharing. Develop critical thinking abilities and a critical mentality by practicing evaluation skills. "How did this data come to be?" you might be wondering," as well as "What does this data mean?" " Never believe anything a website says about itself. Instead, conduct an online search to see what others have to say about them and identify fake news. This will help you determine the accuracy of the material.
Keep an eye out for:
• Authorship – who wrote the piece and where did it come from? Look into the biases (personal inclinations/favoritisms) of the individual, firm, or institution. Is the name of the author mentioned? What qualifications do they have that make them an authority on the subject?
• Accuracy - information that is correct and devoid of errors is regarded as more trustworthy. A couple of typos are acceptable, but the information presented in a sloppy manner with too many spelling or grammatical errors appears unprofessional. Are there any links to other resources that support the assertions made by one source? Check where statistical references and data come from. To express personal perspectives, numbers can be readily adjusted and manipulated. Fact and opinion are not synonymous.
• Objectivity - see if the material is provided with as little prejudice or personal bias as possible. Is it an opinion or an attempt to persuade you to buy something?
• Reliability - To avoid fake news, check when was the information initially released? Is the content you're viewing up to date and is the website updated on a regular basis, or is it old information disguised as new?
• Gather information from websites: One of the simplest ways to avoid falling into the trap of fake news may seem self-evident at first. For news, go straight to reputable news websites. If you rely on Facebook to see what's "trending" or being shared across your newsfeed, you'll have to double-check every meme or news story you come across. Why not use news apps on your phone that connects you to news websites?
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Use a community website builder like Strikingly. You won't have to write or read code to create your own online community. You can concentrate on developing relevant material to attract members this way. Writing high-quality content allows you to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information in your field.
Strikingly gives you enough flexibility to personalize and differentiate your online community websites. With the opportunity to select custom design elements, you may create a community website that your members will enjoy. Choosing gorgeous templates, for example, will inspire you to create the best community websites possible.
It is obvious from this research that there are various approaches to promoting timely, accurate, and civil dialogue in the face of false news and disinformation. In today's environment, there is a lot of experimenting with online news platforms. News organizations are putting products and services to the test that will assist them in spotting hate speech and incitement to violence. A slew of new ideas and methods are blooming, which speaks well for the future of internet journalism and media consumption.
At the same time, everyone has a role to play in the fight to avoid fake news and misinformation. Fostering strong professional journalistic norms, increasing investigative journalism, limiting financial incentives for fake news, and enhancing public internet literacy are all part of this. These initiatives, when taken together, will promote quality conversation while weakening the climate that has promoted disinformation around the world.