In today’s age and times, world news has become akin to personal news. Gone are the days when one would flip through reams of newspaper, with a cup of tea, and spend an hour devouring the happenings of the country and the world. Today, we have news from across the countries at our fingertips. In this era of instant news and a world governed by social media activity, what has become increasingly common, and quite disturbing, is the spread of fake news.
It is unlikely that you haven’t fallen prey to this- we may have passed on a false forward or liked and shared an incorrect news item, or worse still, reacted strongly to a false case. While we are not alone, we do need to collectively realize the ramifications and consequences of engaging in the spread of fake news.
We have gathered some resources and tips for you to help you determine whether a news item is real or fake. For starters, do take this quiz formulated by Youth Ki Awaaz, for one to test whether they can spot fake news from real news.
On seeing a news item, what can help you tremendously is answering a few questions (courtesy Project Look Sharp)
- Who made this?
- Who is the target audience?
- Who paid for this? Or, who gets paid if you click on this?
- Who might benefit or be harmed by this message?
- What is left out of this message that might be important?
- Is this credible (and what makes you think that)?
Some other things which can help you identify whether a news item is real or a fake item are-
- Look for unusual URLs or site names, including those that end with “.co” — these are often trying to appear like legitimate news sites, but they aren’t.
- Look for signs of low quality, such as words in all caps, headlines with glaring grammatical errors, bold claims with no sources, and sensationalist images
- Always go through the “About Us” section of a website. If it is missing or if some registration is required to go through such basic information, then you need to doubt the credibility of the news posted on it.
- Check other credible sources before trusting or sharing news that seems too good (or bad) to be true.
- Consider whether other credible, mainstream news outlets are reporting the same news. If they’re not, it doesn’t mean it’s not true, but it does mean you should dig deeper.
- Avoid extreme reactions. If the news you’re reading makes you really angry or really happy, check multiple sources before trusting.
As this issue is slowly gaining more awareness, a group of journalists have started a website called Wiki Tribune, aimed to bring to the average reader a collection of authentic news items from around the world.
The average person today, is now effectively bombarded with information. Whether it is the plethora of news channels, news websites and apps, or one’s own social media accounts – we have access to hordes and hordes of information. With busy lifestyles and shortage of time, the chances of believing, reacting and passing on fake information are increasing day by day. Thus, do make use of these resources to segregate the fake from the real. On a lighter note, do go through this comic.
Stay Real, Stay Safe!