How to identify Fake News in India | By Dhruv Rathee
How to Spot Fake News
From hyped up television broadcasts to fake news websites, unreliable news sources have become a global issue. It might take some time and critical thinking, but there are plenty of ways to tell if an article or broadcast is legitimate. When evaluating a news story, look for spelling errors, poor grammar, and dramatic language and punctuation. Examine the author and publisher, see if other news organizations have covered the topic, and use fact-checking resources to vet a suspicious story.
Evaluating a News Story
Look for spelling errors and dramatic punctuation.You might find an occasional typo in an authoritative news source, but lots of spelling mistakes and poor grammar are red flags. A reliable story’s content should meet academic standards. Be skeptical if you see phrases in all capitals, excessive punctuation (!!!), and other attention-grabbing devices.
- Meeting academic standards doesn’t mean using complicated words and sentence structures. Rather, it means an article (or a television or radio script) is written clearly, supports its claims with evidence, and is free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Check for expert quotes that support the story’s claims.Good journalism relies on authoritative sources and citations. Look for direct quotations from experts that actually support the story’s claims and weren’t taken out of context.
- For instance, if an article is about a new treatment for a disease, it should cite doctors who specialize in that disease.
- Make sure a quote is consistent with the content of the news story. Suppose an article claims that a supplement is definitely a new cure for arthritis and quotes a doctor who said, “Preliminary findings are promising, but we need more research.” The article took the quote out of context and exaggerated the doctor’s statement.
Run a reverse image search.When you right click an image, you’ll see an option to search Google for the image. When you search for the image, you’ll be able to see other websites that have featured it.
- A credible news story should include its own photography. Be skeptical if you see that a photograph is a stock image or stolen from another source.
Figure out the news story’s purpose.Ask yourself why the author and publisher created the article or broadcast. What is the information’s purpose, and who benefits from it being spread? A credible story should report facts without trying to promote some ulterior motive.
- For example, some news stories are satirical and meant to entertain. You could also come across a story that’s meant to sell a product. Suppose an article about a supplement that cures arthritis was published by a company that produces the supplement. That article is a marketing device, not a credible source of information.
Consider how the story makes you feel.Check your own biases and emotional reaction. If the story fills you with rage or makes you feel smug about your beliefs, it might not be a balanced source of information.
- Ask yourself, “Is this story trying to trigger an extreme emotional reaction? Is its tone balanced and informative? Does it seem preachy or eager to confirm an opinion?”
Examining the Source
Search for the author’s other work.Find out who wrote the story and whether they’re a knowledgeable source. Look for other published works, where they were educated, and their professional experience.
- If there’s no byline, which names an article’s author, ditch the article.
- When you run a search on the author, it’s wise to cross reference your findings. For instance, you might find the author’s website, where they claim they’ve won 3 Pulitzer Prizes. However, when you check the full list of winners, you find that no one with their last name has ever won a Pulitzer.
Learn about the publisher’s point of view.Go to the organization’s website and visit its “About” section. Check if they include satirical information or a specific viewpoint other than reporting objective facts. See if they include anything about employing professional news journalists, or if their content is created by people without professional experience.
- For instance, The Onion’s About page mentions its readership is 4.3 trillion, which is a lot more than the Earth’s population. Aside from obvious satire, be skeptical if an organization talks about conspiracies or advancing a particular ideology.
Look for strange URLs, sloppy website design, and other red flags.A suspicious news website might have an unusual URL that tries to mimic a legitimate news source, such as abc.com.co instead of abc.com. In addition, a credible news organization has its website professionally designed. Be skeptical of sloppy, amateurish formatting and frequent spelling or grammatical errors.
Check the publisher’s advertisements.Read or listen to the ads featured on websites, in print, or on television and radio broadcasts. A news story on a topic related to an advertised product or service isn’t reliable.
- For instance, suppose you’re reading an article about a cure-all supplement. If you see ads for the supplement, don’t trust the article.
Finding Other Perspectives
Search for articles on the topic published by other news organizations.When you come across a news story, run a search on the topic to verify its authenticity. See if other news organizations are reporting on it, or if there’s just one random source making unsubstantiated claims.
- The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC),The New York Times,The Washington Journal, National Public Radio (NPR), andThe Atlanticare just a few of the most respected news organizations.
Consult fact checkers.In addition to reputable news sources, there are a number of websites that debunk fake news stories. If you come across a suspicious story, see if it’s been vetted by sites such as:
- FactCheck.org ()
- Politifact ()
- The International Fact-Checking Network ()
Ask someone you know who has expertise on the topic.When in doubt, get in touch with someone who could help you better understand the topic or recommend reliable sources. It could be a teacher or professor, librarian, or someone who works in the industry discussed in the suspicious article.
- For instance, ask your history or social studies teacher about a suspicious article you read about foreign affairs. If you read an article about a new diet fad, talk to your biology teacher or a medical professional in your social network.
Video: How To Spot Fake News – FAKE NEWS EXPLAINED
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