How to spot Fake News

fakenewsDan O’Connor is a work experience student who has spent the last couple of weeks working with us at IMPACT. For our blog this week, we asked him to comb through some recent articles and compile a list of ways we can spot fake news.

Many of us are share stories and news via social media every day. The problem is that the internet has increased the speed at which these stories travel and decreased the amount of time we have to check if they’re true.

As result, fake news can spread quickly through these channels and reach millions of people within hours.

Fake news consists of false stories that are deliberately written or sent around in order to make people believe something untrue.Here are some steps to help you spot fake news:

Who is the author?
A good tell-tale sign of a fake story is often the absence of a byline. If no one is willing to claim the work, it may well not be of a high quality. If there is a byline, Google it. Check if the author has published other stories, particularly any with major reputable news brands. If the byline is accompanied by a photo, Google that too. Google allows you to search using images. Check that the author’s name and the photo match everywhere they appear.

The headline 
Fake news will promise one thing in the headline or a post on Facebook, but never deliver the goods in the actual story. Bad headlines are often a giveaway for fake news. Be wary of headlines, for example, that end in a question like “Do you agree?”. Reputable news sources are unlikely to use this formulation.
Look out for bad grammar in headlines: mistakes are signs that a story has come from a fake news factory that churns out high quantities of low quality content.
Certain buzz words would be used such as “Epic” “Amazing” “Awesome” “Incredible” should also raise concerns. Hyperbole of this order in a headline may well be a calling card of fake news.

Amateurish-looking web pages
Watch out for badly laid out websites. The context a story is in can tell you s great deal about the veracity (o unreliable sources and unknown otherwise) of its content. Websites that are full of interesting headlines but empty of substance are often fertile ground for fake news.

Is it satire?
There is certainly a lot of fake news on websites like Waterford Whispers News – but that’s ok, it’s satire. Though people occasionally fall for the stories as being true, the majority of the time the joke is clear and the intention is entertainment and not deceit.

Date and time?
Some fake stories aren’t completely fake, but rather distortions of real events. Often fake news will claim that something that happened long ago is related to current events.

User generated news
We’ve all heard of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that is edited by its readers and users, Wikinews is an off-shoot of Wikipedia, and as with the online encyclopaedia, it comes with all te health warnings a collective platform ought to.

Conclusions

People need to be aware of being lured into false news sites.

The best way to avoid fake news* is to use common sense and remember not to believe everything thing you read!

– Daniel O’Connor work experience student

*Editor’s note: Not to be confused with what the current US president frequently calls ‘FAKE NEWS’. His Orangeness uses the term ‘fake news’ to describe accurate reporting that he doesn’t like.