The Jakarta Post
It is important to investigate any news source, even when you think the post is legitimate. (Shutterstock/File)
Long-time Facebook users know that The Onion is the last place to look for reliable news, however, this is not the case for everyone.
Here are 10 tips for how to spot fake news, not just on Facebook, but everywhere, according to social media itself.
1. Beware of headlines
A catchy headline filled with exclamation points and shocking claims should be a rare case in civil society. That said, having one too many headlines that fit these requirements on your feed could mean that there is nothing at all to said stories. Make sure to take everything with a grain of salt.
2. ‘Link, my boy!’
Fake links are easy to make and are often a sign of fake news. Even authentic and mainstream news sources can easily be copied by a fake news poster by making minute changes to the link that most people would notice.
3. Click the link
It is important to investigate any news source, even when you think the post is legitimate. If it does not link directly to a proper website, then it probably did not come from an actual news outlet. If you find any website that seems unfamiliar, it is safer to do a little digging into their background before giving any clout to what they are reporting.
4. Layout, please
Misspelling, grammatical errors, punctuation errors and syntax problems are just a few signs that the website providing news might not be legitimate or credible. Sometimes elements of the website may be authentic, such as the photo, video or graphic, however a simple Google search of these elements may verify if they truly belong to the website in question (or were taken from someone else).
5. ‘That’s Photoshop!’
Fake news stories love to use photoshopped photos or images. If the photo is real, often times it is taken out of context. Again, a simple Google image search will reveal where the image originated from.
6. Are you asking me out?
Unfortunately, we are not talking about that kind of date, but dates are very important. Edited or altered dates are a telltale sign that the news is fake.
Follow the evidence – if the evidence is real. You can easily find the author of any article somewhere on the page and verify whether the sources they are referencing exist or are being taken out of context. Lack of an author or sweeping generalizations are a frequent fake news red flag.
8. Did you see that?
Everyone has had that moment: You and your friends see something strange and you all start talking to each other to verify whether what you all saw happened. This works the same for spotting fake news. If something really happened, why is there nobody else reporting it?
9. Something smells funny
Sites like The Onion are intentionally parodying real news and events in the form of satire. Sadly, these often get mistaken for real news – but they mean to actual harm. Just be aware to check whether the source is known for joke articles.
10. Beware of intentionally false stories
Some news stories are intentionally false, designed as propaganda in order to stir up social groups in the masses of readers. Be careful and remember that all humans are biased and that you should weigh your own morals against what articles are presenting.
Facts do not care about your feelings, but unfortunately, false information can send anyone into an emotional frenzy for any number of reasons. It is important to stay safe online so that you do not make mistakes – for yourself and others – in real life. (acr/kes)