Fake news is certainly not a new phenomenon, but has become increasingly widespread over the past few years. It’s now so easy to share inaccurate or fabricated information online on a grand scale – a tactic that is said to have been used in the US presidential election in 2016.
Fake news isn’t always obviously fake; in fact, the most successful fake news looks pretty realistic. This is the case with stories that link to websites that look similar but have a slightly different URL. These sites are not secure and could capture personal information from users.
What to look out for
Political – False or sensationalist information that is spread about a political candidate or party is a type of political propaganda. There is often a rise in politically-motivated news stories around major elections, with false information spread that plays on the specific beliefs or prejudices of their target audience.
False accusations – False accusations that spread online can be extremely dangerous. For example, video footage published in the wrong context could perpetuate damaging stereotypes and encourage aggressive behaviour towards communities in response to what people think that they have seen online.
Hoax Stories – Hoax stories spread information that is untrue and not based on facts. They can often be used to scare or cause panic amongst social media users until the validity of the source is revealed.
Health scares – Recently fake news stories have been circulating on the internet advising against vaccinations, by using hashtags on Instagram. Although Instagram has pledged to block the hashtags, it is still important to be alert. With the use of social platforms, fake news has the ability to spread incredibly quickly before anything can be done to prevent it.
Protect yourself and learn how to tell the fake news from the real news by following the checklist below. Could you identify a fabricated news story?
- Source: Before liking, commenting on sharing a news story, be sure to validate the source. Make sure it has been written by a trusted authority – if the source is unfamiliar to you, check the websites ‘About’ section to learn more.
- Headline: Always read beyond the headline when sharing news. Clickbait headlines are created for a reason. If the story doesn’t add up or appears unbelievable, do more research to gain greater insight.
- Analyze: Just because you have seen a story shared several times does not mean that it is true. Be sure to check facts before circulating a story yourself.
- Retouched: Fake news stories often contain images. Often they are either taken out of context to promote fake news or have been retouched or manipulated – check carefully before sharing.
- Error: Many fake news stories have look-alike URLs making them appear as though they are from a reliable source. Look out for misspellings, bad grammar or awkward layouts. Do not click on any links that are not official websites.
Have you ever been duped by fake news? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at @Hyve!