Fake Vs Real – How To Separate Fake News Vs Real News

Fake news has become a bane of our century. In fact, it was so powerful that it radically changed the course of a presidential election and had Facebook scrambling to quickly put an end to the spread of fake news. So what constitutes a fake news and how is it dangerous in our times?

Fake news is sensational or biased news that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread to promote a certain agenda. Its main purpose is to move people away from the truth and follow a conspiracy theory. For example last year, on December 4th, a North Carolina man opened fire at the Washington pizzeria Comet simply because he wanted to “self-investigate” a false election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring. The story was such a hit that 14% of Trump supporters believed it was true, 32% were not so sure and rest didn’t care. Fortunately, though, an in-depth report of the story proved it was a hoax and none of the allegations were proved.

Fake News on Social Media

Prior to social media fake news didn’t really stand a chance. But now thanks to Facebook and Twitter, sharing a faulty piece of information and generating clicks over it is a child’s play. No one questions the authenticity and there are no legal ramifications. And although fake news stories tend to stretch the limits of one’s imagination, they are somehow easily believed because people generally have a disbelief towards mainstream media. So say if a fake news channel ran an, ‘inside story,’ over Obama, people would readily accept that version as compared to any that is run by CNN or the BBC. There is a general mistrust towards mainstream media (for good reasons) which leads people towards accepting civilian or yellow journalism as trustworthy sources.

Fake News Implications

As much as you’d like to believe the fake news, know that they have dangerous implications. Believing unsolicited news can change your perspective, enforce you to support the wrong ideology and may even cause you to become supportive of a phobia, a conspiracy theory or an impractical world perspective. Fake news is no longer just fun and click bait – it is defining politics, challenging cultures and reshaping ideologies and usually for the worse. What’s worse? It’s gradually becoming more difficult to separate the fact from the fake. You can’t easily make out if the news is genuine or false because fake news borrows from an actual happening. Sources are often misquoted or misused and it has become easy enough to manipulate actual stories. Having said that, you can still identify the two if you know how to look carefully and understand the pattern of fake news websites. So if you want to separate the fake from the fact, here’s how you do it.

How to Spot a Fake News Story

Most fake news stories are designed to attract the audience using a clickbait title or a biased excerpt that would demand you to take a side. Here are the tell-tale signs of a fake article.

1. An Unbelievable Title

‘Man finds herbal cure to cancer,’ ‘President Obama was a Muslim,’ etc are short, conceals the truth and entices the reader to click on the article to read more. Factual news stories seldom have clickbait titles and strive to convey authenticity, credibility and the actual news in the headline.

2. A Shady Website

A website design tells it all. If you’re being taken to a website full of ads, odd articles, sexual and nude-ridden articles, videos, images etc, know that you’re in bad company. Take a look at the Daily Mail or The Onion. Notice the number of weird articles? Most of them opinionated, hyperbole or rhetorical in nature. Now take a look at legit sites like the NY Times, Washington Post, or The Guardian. Notice the difference?

3. Be Careful of Domain Ripoffs

It’s pretty easy for fake news sites to create knock-off domain names from actual new sites. So you have something like ABCNews.com.co which is a fake news site ripped off from the actual site ABCNews.go.com. Always make sure to check the domain name. Double search on Google to verify if the website has any other versions.

4. Check if a Big Story is Being Reported by All News Site

Ever came across an article claiming the death of a celebrity but which oddly has not been covered by any other big news outlet? That’s fake news right there. If there’s a big, bad breaking story, ALL news outlet worldwide will be covering it with their additions of interviews, fact checks, reports etc. If you don’t see any other news outlet covering the story other than your favorite fake news site, know that it’s not legit.

5. Check the Story’s Sources

A fundamental rule of journalism implies that sources are named and facts are stated. A legit news would not dare publish an article with biased information. Fake news on the other hand would have questionable sources or unnamed sources. It is necessary to ensure that the sources have strong credentials and are verifiable. So if no one else reported on Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring, there are high chances that she probably did not.

How to Share News Responsibly?

Do not spread fake news. You’re only doing the country a disservice. Always make sure what you read, what you share and what you believe in are legit, verifiable and factual. We all may have an opinion but when opinions are turned into news, we have a huge problem to deal with.

Farah tries to keep up with the fast-paced tech world by writing about it. She covers latest tech news and writes informative pieces to help her readers make informed decisions about their tech preferences.