The Jakarta Post
Fake news, hoaxes and misinformation are difficult to deal with, but there are ways to spot and fight them. (Shutterstock/Panchenko Vladimir)
Many of us are updated with the latest news as soon as we wake up every morning, especially those who start the day by checking their social media notifications. Updates are likely to come from a number of online platforms, a mix of legitimate sources and otherwise. News travels fast these days, shared and re-posted by netizens, and a large volume of news spreads without proper editing and fact-checking, resulting in misinformation.
Misleading information is, however, often purposefully created to gain popularity, spread propaganda or encourage polarization. As we cannot help being exposed to a jumble of information in this digital age, we must be able to differentiate the accurate information from the misleading.
According to Sander van der Linden, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Cambridge, there are certain signs of fake news as follows:
Ridiculous and hyperbolic headlines
Articles with this kind of headlines, also known as clickbait, are designed to drive traffic and social engagement. Ignore clickbait so that the enterprise makes less profit and the fake content transmission slows down. Van der Linden writes, “If it sounds too ridiculous to be true, it probably is!”
Content is politically framed
There are articles that take less than two seconds to win the reader’s agreement and, as confirmed by research, we tend to fluently process information that we agree with. Be aware that some articles could be framed to fuel conflict between different groups in society and increase polarization.
The article has gone viral
Craig Silverman in a report on behalf of the Tow Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, writes that lies spread much farther than the truth, just as viral content gets shared over and over again because of things other than factual accuracy. Therefore going viral is not always a good indicator of importance.
Above all, it is wise to keep a cool head while processing information from many different sources. Be selective about the news we like to share, and sometimes not sharing is better. We can also maintain a balance between consumption of news from social media websites with more reliable and accurate news outlets. (mut)