To protect our circles and communities, we must recognise fake news circulated via social media before sharing, no matter how helpful we think it is. Here’s how to do it right.
Fake news spreads easily, and it is even faster via social media and other instant messaging platforms. These messages may sometimes contain incorrect, misleading, hurtful or even harmful information, which may disturb or cause panic in our society. Hence, it is imperative to learn to recognize how to distinguish fact and fiction when being socially online.
Here’s how to fact-check fake news:
Check Photos and Media Carefully
One of the most basic ways to curb fake news is to carefully check if the photos, videos and audio recordings are true or edited. Check other trusted news sources to see if the same content is being posted elsewhere. Also, check whether any organization’s logo used in the message looks the same as on the official website. If you are unable to verify and still have doubts, ask people you trust for more information.
Scrutinize the Forwarded Message You Receive on WhatsApp
When a message is forwarded more than 5 times on WhatsApp, it highlights a double arrow icon with a “Forwarded” tag. In such cases, you need to do some digging, before you believe it yourself and pass it on to others. Find out a bit more about the content creator – is it a professional or a well-known news agency or has someone deliberately written it to create disharmony or chaos.
Understand the Messages That Look Different
Most fake messages you receive contain hoaxes. So look for these signs to check if the information is accurate.
i. The sender claims to be affiliated with some big fortune company or bank etc
ii. The message claims you can avoid punishment, like account suspension, if you forward the message.
iii. The message content claims a reward or gift from a company, or a group, or another person.
If you see anything like this in your messages, please delete them immediately.
When you receive any message, check the language. See if there are any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Legitimate journalists and organizations are less likely to make spelling and grammar mistakes. Moreover, anything written entirely in capital letters should raise your suspicion sense.
Verify the URL of the Website
If the message content has web links – verify the URL of the website. If it begins with “http” instead of “https” it means the website is fake or unauthorized. (Note: An “https” site is secured using an SSL Certificate – where the ‘s’ stands for secure).
Develop a Critical Mindset
One of the prime reasons why fake news is a big problem is that it is often believable, which means it's easy to get brainwashed. This is why you must keep a balance on your emotional side. Mindfully approach what you see and absorb information rationally and critically.
If you continuously receive fake messages from a particular party, try muting/blocking the sender. Disregard the message and delete it completely to avoid exposing your contacts to potentially harmful and dangerous sources or situations. You can also report about it to the media’s compliance center or directly report it to the IT Cell of the Police incase it looks very serious.
Sorting fact and fiction can seem like a tedious task at first sight. Yet, getting to the truth is always worth the effort!