Fake news is not a new phenomenon.
Sites like The Onion and TV shows like SNL have created fake news for satirical entertainment. During the 2016 election, however, fake news written by trolling sources developed political stories to heighten emotions during the campaign. The stories were presented as fact, rather than satire, and were often posted to social media because the ability for the stories to be shared quickly using bait-click techniques between the masses. Many people fell and continue to fall victim to the cons. Fake news on social media is a dangerous and serious phenomenon.
When encountering "news" of social media, it is important to fact check and analyze the material and the author. In addition to the more detailed tips on the "Fact Checking" page of this guide, here are four quick questions that you can ask yourself when encountering fake news on social media.
1. First, identify the author, "publisher," and the web address. Is the author a well-known journalist? Is the publisher legitimate? What kind of web address does the article or website have: .com, .org, .edu, or .gov? Does .co come after any of these address indicators? If the journal and author are not known news providers or have not been providing news very a long time, there is a higher chance that they are not reputable sources. Web addresses ending in .com or .org also have a higher chance of providing bias information than .edu or .gov sites. Further, .co after any of the pervious url forms is an indicator that the .co site is a copy of the original.
2. Is the source from a think tank or nonprofit that has a stake in the issue being addressed? Are there any cases of bias? Bias in news is just as likely as to produce skewed or misinformed news as fake new sources.
3. Are there ads? Ads are a clear indicator that the site may not legitimate because the producer has not purchased a domain url or subscriptions for usage of the vendor's web platform.
4. Is the topic emotional charged or controversial? Fake news relies on your emotional responses just like ads.
Answers to these questions will help you when encountering fake news on social media. If it is fake, don't share. OR share it with a warning stating that this is fake news to spread the word to your friends to beware of this con.
TIP: Also be on the look out for misspellings and grammatical errors.