Most people have heard about the term Fake News by now, how do we know what is real and what is fake when social media is flooded with rumours, photos and videos. Some information is important testimony from eyewitnesses, others propaganda produced to deceive and influence you.
Here are some advise to keep in mind:
- Many of the information you see on social media, for example, has been published to influence you and even deceive you. Those who are behind them and spread them are not interested in the truth.
- Be extra suspicious of pictures and movies. A classic trick is to take clips from the past in completely different places and link it to a current event.
- Be extra skeptical of news that seems spectacular, but is not reported by established media. Sometimes it takes some time from the time it starts to spread until it can be verified, but if it is not covered by established media at all, it is likely that it has been judged to be false.
- There is no big media that wants to “darken” something of news value, they will report. So, if you see a post on social media that seems spectacular but no media has written about them, it may be wise to wait a bit.
You can do this yourself
Today, there are many methods and aids that make it easier for everyone to be source-critical. Here is a list of how you can think when you become a source criticism detective.
- Who is behind the information? Can you find the original source?
- Why is the information available? Think about how the message wants to change your thinking and actions.
- What information do you use and who benefits from you disseminating it?
- How old is the information? Is it still relevant?
- How did you get the information? Does it come from a trusted source that has previously provided verified information?
- Check if you can find the information in other sources. Information from only one source must be treated with great caution If the information seems to be “too good to be true”, it is usually so.
- Look for information that does not confirm your current position to avoid looking only for information that reinforces your current opinion
Check the account!
Have you found something on a social media account that seems interesting? So you can ask yourself these questions:
- Who is behind the account?
- Is the person in public records?
- Does the profile picture seem real? (use Google image search).
- Has the account been started recently?
- How often does it post?
If the account was created three days ago, has already made 3000 posts, and the image is taken from a database of photo models in Suriname, well then the account is probably fake.
Impossible to check all information – evaluate the source
At the same time: the flow of news and information is quickly becoming extremely massive. And even media that work professionally with verifying information are sometimes deceived.
But what you can do is, as I said, try to value the source. New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Toronto Star, AP etc are news organizations that have been around for decades, work as journalists and have contact information for reporters and people in charge of the site.
If, on the other hand, you come across a site with only spectacular headlines, which seems fairly new, completely lacks contact information for real people and only has ads for Viagra, then there is reason to be skeptical.