How to recognise fake news?
When you're navigating the web or scrolling through social media, you may come across news stories that are fake. The last few years have seen an explosion of fake news around the world and it can be difficult to know what's true anymore.
Fake news stories have gotten more prevalent and harder to separate from real ones. But there are things you can do to verify if a news story is fake or not.
Whoever creates a fake news story often has complete control over the webpage the story's posted on. They can make it look as nice and as sleek as they want, even make it look like a professional news website like CNN. But they can’t control other sources. So when fact checking a news story, start looking at what other sources around the web say.
Steps you can take
With the idea of going wide in mind, here are some practical steps you can take.
- What are the other sources reporting? Look at what other reputable sources say about the story. Are they reporting the same thing or do they not even mention it? If there is a lot of conflicting information, then it could be fake news or a developing story.
- Who are the author and publisher? Another thing you can do is look into who wrote the story and what website it's published on. What do other sources on the internet say about them? Do they have a reputation for being trustworthy? Do they gain something from making you believe false information? Or would they risk damaging their own reputation of trustworthiness? It could also be a satire site, meaning you just found something to bookmark for when you need a laugh.
- Fact Checkers: Still unsure if the news is fake or not? You can always look at what the professional fact checkers have to say. Places like Factcheck.org, Full Fact or AAP Check are fact checkers that properly explain why something is fake or not. Sadly, they often only have time to check the major stories, so you aren’t guaranteed to find information on the story you found.
You can do it!
Even though there is a lot of fake news that looks convincing, there are ways to separate fact from fiction. Cornell University has a good LibGuide with more information on how you can check the validity of information and how our personal biases can make the process harder.