How to Spot Fake News

( – We are about to head into another election year in the United States in 2024, and fake news is once again in the headlines. However, fake news emerges not only during election years, but can crop up at any point in time. If you know what to look for, you can insulate yourself from the worst examples of fake news. Today, we will take a look at how to spot fake news and what you should do to put yourself in a position to protect yourself from its impacts.

How Widespread is Fake News?

It is, unfortunately, true that fake news has spread further than you might ever have imagined. In fact, WNYC Studios reports the following about the noble efforts of one professor who is trying to push back against the spread of fake news:

Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College, has made a list of more than a hundred problematic news sites, along with tips for sorting the truthful from the troublesome. She talks with Brooke about how to be a savvy news consumer in a misinformation-filled world.

There is clearly a market for trafficking in fake news, and we could sit back and despair because of this. However, there are more productive steps that you can take to insulate yourself from the worst examples of fake news.

Steps to Take if You Suspect Something is Fake News

You come across a claim that sounds too off the wall to be true. What do you do in that moment? You have a variety of options available to you. You could accept it at face value and potentially be misled. Alternatively, you can make the choice to insulate yourself from the worst impacts of fake news. Take certain steps to keep yourself protected from the spread of fake news.

Step 1: Consider the Source

Which website are you on? Is it truly reputable? If you aren’t sure, you might want to step away from the website and check out the qualities of the website that you are looking at. The College of Staten Island recommends that you check the reputation of the website that you are getting information from.

Step 2: Read More Than the Headline

Many websites are incentivized by getting as many clicks as they possibly can. This means that they will often put up inflammatory headlines that are sure to stir people up. This generates a lot of traffic, but it doesn’t mean that the information provided is actually helpful. Read the full story to see if there is real value to it or not.

Step 3: Check for Satire Status

Some websites are created with the express mission of creating satirical content to make readers life. Popular websites such as The Onion do this to provide their viewers with a chuckle. Make sure you aren’t reading the information on these sites and believing that it is reality. They intentionally make up stories for comedic value.

Step 4: Look for Imposter Content

Certain sources are designed to look like a genuine news source but aren’t. They spoof a real news site to take on the reputation of the news site that they are pretending to be. However, these imposter websites post false or misleading news content to get as many clicks as possible. They generate fake news stories that you should avoid taking seriously.

Step 5: Check the Date of the Story

Sometimes, a story may simply be outdated and no longer accurate. Social media has a tendency to bring back outdated stories in an attempt to make them appear like they are happening in the present. Always verify that the information you are reading is current and accurate.

There are ways that you can insulate yourself from the worst impacts of fake news if you wish to do so. Make sure you put up your armor so you aren’t taken for a ride when it comes to fake news.

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