Since the U.S. Presidential Election in 2016, the world became more aware of the long-term media plague called “fake news”. Fake news is not a new thing – it has existed for a long time, and it has been used to manipulate the public before too. However, we have now seen the massive effects it can have.
Reading, Writing, Fighting Fake News
With the internet being so accessible to people, it becomes a lot easier for people to express their opinions. Often, these ‘opinions’ are treated as information too. This is one way fake news originates. In some cases, fake news is simply created, or the actual news is fabricated to affect public views.
The internet, especially social media, has become an integral part of our lives. During the presidential elections, dozens of misleading stories went viral in the “trending” section of Facebook. Even Google’s search engine showed up these fake news’ just like authentic ones.
Fighting fake news online is easy once you develop some habits. Since it’s so easy to get an URL, post your story with a click bait title, and then share it, all it needs is just a little bit of awareness to make sure that you are not spreading fake news.
Get your News from Trusted Outlets
Reputed news outlets generally do not promote fake news. Rather, these legacy news outlets also work as anti-fake news systems. Mostly, newspapers are a great source for authentic news. Their online counterparts also tend to be equally trustworthy. Fake news generally originates from small or medium sized blogs, blogs which have a track record of posting similar biased articles.
When you find a news, check other sites and see if they also say the same thing. Include your legacy news outlets in this list too. When you find that the same thing is being reported by majority of the news channels, you can then trust the news. With all the behavioral tracking that is done online, it also becomes difficult to find news channels that show a different perspective.
Get out of your online bubble
Behavioral tracking is one of the reasons why people often develop strong opinions based on online articles, even though they may be false. Facebook and Google, the most used sites for daily news earn most of their revenues through advertising. Advertising works better when they’re relevant. Therefore, to understand what sort of advertisements you will find relevant, your behavior is tracked online. These includes, sites you visit, what you do on those sites, what you shop and more.
Facebook uses a similar algorithm to populate your news feed. You only see more of what you like to see. This often builds up biased opinions about certain things. You can get out of this bubble by using an ad blocking plugin for your browser that also blocks online trackers. You can opt out of behavioral advertising from the Digital Advertisers’ Alliance site. You can also reset your Facebook ad preferences. The latter can be very tedious, but you will see a whole new side of the internet once you do so.
Report False Stories
Facebook already has a system in place that allows users to report false stories. When something shows up on your news feed, after reading it and checking with a few other sources, if you think that the news is fake, you should report it. Also, Facebook keeps the process anonymous, in case you’re concerned about some sort of backlash.
Correct the incorrect
Once you actually see something is wrong, make sure that you mention what you know is right by citing multiple sources that back your argument. Citing the sources is more important than presenting the argument in the first place.
Also, if you shared something incorrect, make sure that you admit it. It is easy to fall prey to these fake news. They are designed that way. Make sure that you also share what is correct when you admit sharing something incorrect. And from next time onwards, double check your sources before sharing.
The best way to fight fake news is to get your news in print. Newspapers have trained journalists instead of algorithms that present the news online. These journalists are trained and hardworking people whose job is to get your correct unbiased news on time.