US President Donald Trump has made “Fake News” a popular phrase, though it has existed for a while. While his purpose in using the phrase serves as chastisement aimed at his political opponents and journalists, the term can be used to mean fake information or unreliable news source. In this piece, we are going to examine how you can find out whether a piece of news you have come across is real or fake.
Check the Source
Whether you are sure or not that the news is credible, it would be a good idea to check the site that posted the news in the first place. Checking out the About Us and Contact Us pages will give you some information about the site’s credibility. Also, take a look at the URL of the bit of news. If the site’s address seems off, that could be a telltale sign.
Read up on the article’s author and check their credentials online. For example, if the site claims the author has won a Pulitzer, you can check this by searching a list of Pulitzer winners and seeing whether they are there or not.
Finally, credible news sources have no problem citing their information properly. If a site gives you video and news links where you can read more on a subject, that usually means it can be trusted, provided, of course, its sources are credible as well.
If some news seems too sensationalistic to be true, you can always turn to some fact-checking websites. Our favorites, for example, are factcheck.org and snopes.com, but there are many others. These sites either debunk fake news or can’t find anything related to the topic. In other words, if you come across a bit of news you can’t verify on these sites, it’s probably fake.
For example, at the time of writing, there was a news report stating that Russia unleashed lions on the streets to ensure people stay indoors during COVID-19 curfew. A simple Google search provided us with several sites with that specific phrasing, but a check on the aforementioned fact-checking sites proved these claims to be false.
Real news tends to be on the objective side. This isn’t only a matter of ethics, but of accountability and pragmatism as well. If you publish false news stories, you are going to be held legally accountable for any fallout that might occur as their result (though not always, which is the reason many sites don’t stop).
If you come across a sensationalistic title, like one saying that a politician is going to take away your rights, revolutionize your system of government, ruin the economy, save you from the outside threat, or something else to that effect, you should probably steer clear as there is some bias on the author’s part. Endorsing a politician does not immediately and necessarily dismiss a news source as untrustworthy, but it often does and it can put things into perspective and show you how likely they are to put a different spin on things.