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emocrats want to impose Islamic law in Florida. Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for President. An FBI agent investigating Clinton died under suspicious circumstances. Fake news stories like these and more swept the internet in the 2016 election—and people believed them.
Though the election has passed, fake news continues to circle the web as innocent readers fall victim to erroneous but captivating headlines. In this war of words, students and professionals can stand their ground and help promote real, uplifting content. Here are tips to spot and fight fake news as recommended by BYU assistant professor Christopher Wilson, and University of Oregon professor Seth Lewis.
How to spot fake news
1. Read the article. Before you can fight fake news, it’s important to recognize it. As reported by Business Insider, Twitter users only click through 59 percent of headlines before sharing.
2. Think critically. Wilson said that the best tool for identifying fake news is to think critically about what you read. What one person may call fake news may simply reflect opinion. Lewis adds that readers must untangle the writer’s intent before judging a story’s validity.
“The first draft of history is invariably and inevitably a messy business,” Lewis said “The difference is that real journalism makes a good-faith effort to get things right or correct the record when it gets things wrong. Fake news, by contrast, has no interest in what is real and every interest in maximizing partisan advantage or click-driven profit or both at the same time.”
3. Find the original source. If the story is a repost, make sure to find the original source and author. NBC news cautions against stories with no byline or websites with only one author.
4. Inspect the URL. Business Insider warns that fake news purveyors often choose domain names that look identical to established news companies if not closely inspected. For example, abcnews.com.co mimics the logo and branding of ABC news, but the website is fake.
5. Check well-known news outlets. Lewis acknowledges the mainstream media isn’t 100 percent accurate but finds hope in its attempts to get the facts. When a fake news story claimed Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for president, the lack of reporting by The New York Times, Associated Press and The Washington Post made it likely the news was fake. Business Insider recommends, “if a story of that magnitude is legitimate, expect multiple news outlets to write about it.”
[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]“The first draft of history is invariably and inevitably a messy business. The difference is that real journalism makes a good-faith effort to get things right or correct the record when it gets things wrong. Fake news, by contrast, has no interest in what is real and every interest in maximizing partisan advantage or click-driven profit or both at the same time.”[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]
How to fight fake news
1. Stop it from spreading. What is obviously fake news to one person is not always obvious to another. Follow Facebook’s example and alert readers by pointing out fake articles in the comments section. Those who see friends sharing fake news can kindly alert them to their mistake.
2. Get news from a variety of sources. Reading multiple news sources can broaden your perspectives and protect you from falling into the bias of a sole source, but it also helps you identify questionable headlines that don’t appear anywhere else.
3. Read trusted sources. Following multiple news sources will only help if those sources can be trusted. The increased potential for encountering false sources requires individual censorship by media consumers.
Wilson explains that though fake news has always existed, the internet allows for widespread dissemination of uncensored information. “[In the past], everything was aggregated into the hands of gatekeepers. Now, there is no gate.”
This article, by Market Watch, lists the most and least trusted news sources. Try reading daily updates from at least three trusted sources.
4. Care to share. Savvy readers shouldn’t underestimate their power to empower others by sharing news they know isn’t fake. The more real news people share, the less room there is for fake news to overtake newsfeeds.
For added reading, Wilson recommends Arthur W. Page’s “Seven principles that guide our action and behavior.”
Written by Becca Pearson.