We all use the internet and social media to learn, be entertained, and connect with others in our daily lives. With so much information presented to us online, we often find ourselves falling for information that is not true. Fake News and Misinformation are two techniques that have started to emerge in our digital space. So, what exactly is Fake news, and how can we identify it?

What is Fake News?

Fake news refers to stories or information that are intentionally distributed to spread incorrect information. Fake News is often presented in an authentic way such as in the form of an article, or perhaps a video, and designed to attract attention, shock, and shape our perceptions.

Some fake news originates purely through urban myths or simply messages changing as it is passed down from person to person. Since it’s not in our immediate nature to check everything before we share, we often find ourselves passing on information that is not correct. With shocking headlines and content, this is how Fake news spreads very quickly across the digital space.

The people who create Fake News often have a hidden agenda and exploit innocent people into sharing their content without realizing its authenticity. Fake News often has strong and prejudiced opinions, which can be dangerous for many people, especially the younger generation who are easily persuaded to take on views about the world that could cause harm to themselves or others.

What is the impact of Fake News?

Fake News has a significant impact on our views of the world, which can often shape our decisions. Continuing to believe the information we find on the web, no matter how exaggerated, or distorted, it can cause us to form wrong decisions.

Here’s a list of the types of impact Fake News can cause:

  • Political parties can take advantage of fake news to manipulate votes
  • Loss of trust in the media, as some news channels, cover stories to increase ratings.
  • It can result in causing harmful conspiracy theories leading to the spread of hatred.
  • Difficult in differentiating between fact and fiction. This is primarily a concern for young children who are repeatedly exposed to specific types of news.
  • Loss of reputation, especially if the story revolves around a business. Fake news on a business can put any company in a setback with stock pricing plummeting and loss of customers.

Some Stocking Statistics on Fake News

Did you know?

  • 52% of Americans say they regularly encounter fake news online.
  • 67% of US adults say they’ve received false information on social media.
  • 35.5% of millennials read political news on Facebook.
  • Social media is the least trusted news source worldwide, fake news statistics show.
  • 56% of Facebook users can’t recognize fake news that aligns with their beliefs.
  • In Q3 of 2020, there were 1.8 billion fake news engagements on Facebook.

From these statistics, it’s clear that most of us lack the ability to examine information critically. Therefore, the only way to stop becoming a victim of fake news is to learn how to ask the right questions.

Tops Tips on Spotting Fake News

  1. Think before sharing: Ask yourself, who is saying this? Is the organization credible? Is the information biased?
  2.  Check before you share: Always double or triple-check the article’s source. Go online to see if other sites are reporting on the same story.
  3. Search for the author: Search for the author’s name and other pieces of work they might have published.
  4. Evaluate the tone and purpose: Is this written objectively to inform and educate or is it written biased and designed to persuade or incite the reader?
  5. Verify the date: Fake stories do not always publish the date. However, a legitimate article will.
    Be skeptical of the story in a social crisis: False stories are often planted by special interest groups to fuel one-sided thought.
  6. Look for outrageous ads on the page: Reliable news outlets will not have weight loss pills or celebrity gossip blog posts flanking legitimate news coverage.
  7. Is the story sponsored? Look closely to see if the story is a sponsored post. More and more, websites are designed to look like legitimate news sites but are sponsored by special interest groups.
  8. Spot check the overall content: Assess image quality, the number of clicks, and overall layout. Often, fake stories will be overpopulated with ads or presented in slide shows that make room for more pop-up ads.
  9. Remember, If in Doubt- Don’t share: When in doubt, don’t share, post, or publish