In the past, the main news sources that people relied on were radios, television news, newspapers and magazines. During such times, it was easy to tell if the news from these sources were a hoax because more often than not, a prominent disclaimer would be issued together with the news story. Moreover, it was easy to tell if a given piece of news was too outrageous to be true.
Fast forward to today, when there has been an increase in internet penetration globally. The internet makes it very easy for news to spread even if it is false. Overly humorous, fictitious and satirical news is being spread as if it is genuine. Most of these stories are made intentionally to create traffic and increase revenue for these sites or to spread the agenda of certain political groups.
The concern, how to tell when something is a “fake news” story, thus need to be handled. Some of the ways of knowing “fake news” are explained below:
1. If the news is from an unreliable/questionable source.
There are some news sources that are known to openly give stories that are purely for entertainment. Their news are never factual and mainly use fictitious characters. These sites may give legitimate news once in a while. However, since it may be difficult to separate “fake New” and real news from such sources, it is important to approach all their headlines with caution.
2. If the other headlines from the source sound “fake”.
A headline like: “Hillary Clinton finally supports Donald Trump’s immigration policy”, may appear believable at first, right?. However, it is important to look at the other stories from this source. If most of them sound outrageous, then the chances that the headline above is also “fake” are very high. Other headlines may include stories like, “A 5-year old discovers the cure for HIV”. Such source of news cannot be trusted.
3. Reputable News sources are not running the same story.
A story of great interest must also be a headline in the reputable news sources such as CNN and BBC. If you run a search of the news and such story is not in these respected and reliable news sources, then you are dealing with a “fake News” story.
4. The website with the news has a weird looking URL.
Most of the sites that run “fake news” may adopt the name of a reputable site so as legitimize their openly questionable news. If you are not careful, you may not be able to notice this. If a given story originates from a website like, WWW.CNN15.COM.CO, it is important to find out if the real CNN usually has the same domain. If that is not the case, then you are having “fake news” story.
Most of these sites also have very unprofessional and disorganized websites.
5. Look at the contacts below the story.
Reliable stories must have contacts that you can reach in case you want to confirm the authenticity of a story. Where these contacts are not provided making it difficult to verify the news, then you are dealing with “fake news”. In addition, you may find that most of the stories running on the page are all written by the same person. There is no way a reputable news source can only have one author for all its headlines.
In the current world of “fake News”, do not just consume any news without finding out how authentic it may be. It is important to equip yourself with methodologies of separating the real from the “fake”. There are also websites that can be used to tell if a given story is made up.
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