We are always told to be aware of fake news, yet we sometimes find ourselves being manipulated by a false headline. Fake news is nothing new – but in our rapidly digitalising world, we can be surrounded by it even more, hence why it is essential to be cautious. This post will outline some things you can do to spot fake news and help you to remain cautious as you navigate different headlines.
Source: Sébastien Thibault via Sciencemag
Read beyond the headline
Some authors exaggerate the headline in order to attract the reader’s attention and to lure them into clicking the link to reach the news story – this is also known as clickbait. The best thing to do is to read beyond the headline and to dig deeper into the story. Even if you’re in a rush, try to read the first few sentences of the publication as the headline may be misleading. Similarly, make sure that the headline (as well as the main article) does not contain any grammatical errors. Poor spelling or grammatical misuse may indicate that the article in question may be false.
Check the source
There are several things you can do to determine whether the source of the information is trustworthy or not:
- Review the URL – If the website address tries to replicate the name of a major news source by changing the spelling or domain (for e.g: using org.com) , then it may require further research into the page
- Examine the website – Look at the homepage, contents, everything. If the web page gives you an “off” feeling in terms of design or content, then read their articles with extra caution
- Check the author of the article and the “about us” section of the website if there is one
- Although this may not be prevalent in all websites, check if the web page has a verification mark or some form of designation
Consider looking at other media
Although fake news can go viral and shared within minutes, it’s important to look at other major and trustworthy news sources to see whether a similar news story is being published. Check to see if the news is being reported on TV and radio, not just online.
If ever in doubt, use Full Fact to make up your mind about a news article. Full Fact is a UK-based independent fact checking charity, actively working with government departments and institutions to combat misinformation by improving the quality of news. Learn more about them at www.fullfact.org
Remember that fake news is exactly that..fake!
Written by Sinem Ishlek
Sinem is an undergraduate reading Development Studies at SOAS, University of London and enjoys socialising and exploring different cultures through cooking. She mainly writes about personal development and student life, aiming to guide motivated young women.