How To Debunk Fake News 🔎

Why do we need to debunk it?

We’ve covered the impact of fake news and its origins but how do we deal with it in our personal life and from a business perspective. Not debunking fake news can have many negative consequences, particularly from a business point of view.  If a customer were to see you sharing a fake news story, it can be seen as a lack of knowledge or a lack or research, which translates to carelessness.

But is it possible to stop fake news? Either social platforms and media outlets will find a way to stop fake news or we will become further swamped in fake news as we struggle to work out the difference between real and fake. With Donald Trump now using the term to brand anything he doesn’t like as fake, emotive writing being much more influential than factual writing, combined with little consequence and high rewards (£)….it won’t be going anywhere just yet!

Should the media be doing more?

Yes, and they are in fairness. Channel 4, always ahead of the curve, founded a reality checking team back in 2008. Something that many other outlets have recently announced, the BBC has made it’s election reality checking team a permanent addition, Google has a fact checker option on news stories and Facebook recently announced plans to combat fake news via new algorithms based on extensive research, as well as partnering with media companies in certain countries. Facebook has been using a flag system that works with third-party organisations to check any stories that have been flagged as potentially false by Facebook users. The problem these companies face is toeing the line between stopping fake news but not censoring free speech of smaller, alternative news sources. It’s yet to be seen just how effective these new measures will be, as they begin to stop fake news curators will look to find possible workarounds.

How you can debunk the news

We’ve created a checklist to help you debunk fake news. The majority of fake news creators are seeking profits, by not clicking on these links we help to make the practice much less profitable. However, that can be very hard in the click bait society we currently live in. Sometimes you need to investigate to in order make a decision.

  1. Check the name of the source – Does it sounds legit? Take ‘nbc.com.co’ for example, at first glance this sounds like a real news website, but it’s actually attempting to copy nbc.com. Further inspection shows a series of outrageous headlines and a very basic looking website.
  2. Don’t take a headline at face value, ever! – Serial fake news creator Paul Horner, stated that he had so much success because a vast majority of his audience never bothered reading the article. They took the headline at face value and then shared it. Don’t take a headline at face value, they’re trying to entice you in. Make sure the details all add up!
  3. Evidence-based reporting – Does the article that you are reading have any statistics? If it’s just accusations, suggestions and emotive language, then there’s a good chance it isn’t true as it lacks any real evidence. However, the opposite isn’t always true. Just because a story has a statistic in, doesn’t mean that it is true.
  4. Use your common sense – If it sounds too extravagant, there’s a good chance it is. There will always be freak events, but on the whole, if something is too good to be true is normally is. So when you next see “Trump Offering Free One-Way Tickets to Africa & Mexico for Those Who Wanna Leave America”“, it’s probably nonsense!
  5. Still struggling? Download a helpful extension such as B.S. Extension, it tells you when you’re browsing an unreliable source that might contain fake news. A very simple, but effective tool. Alternatively, you can check stories against independent fact-checkers such as Snopes or websites that list fake news sites such as Fake News Watch.

Article by Tom Strangwick

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