When the internet is increasingly riddled with fake news content, how can you go about deciphering the real from the fake?
Here are some pointers by TOUCH Cyber Wellness to help you validate the legitimacy of online content.
- Check the date of the article
News should be current and information may no longer be accurate if the information was taken from an outdated news source.
- Question the source
Try to get your news from reliable sources with a good reputation and track record. In addition, learn to discern between news reports and opinion pieces from independent writers or members of the public. Opinion pieces are based on an individual’s thoughts and may not reflect the truth.
Do also be especially wary of fake news sites designed to look like legitimate news sites. For example, abcnews.com is a legitimate news source, but abcnews.com.co is not, despite its similar appearance.
- Verify across multiple sources
Visit other credible news sites to see if the same news content is being carried there and that information is consistent.
Some fake news reports which are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors are easy to spot. However, not all bogus reports are obviously fake. Some are well disguised with a mix of both fact and fiction. For instance, reports with false quotes attributed to real people, genuine content taken out of context, or factual information that is sensationalised to frame things a certain way.
- Don’t be swayed by confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new evidence or news as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.
When confirmation bias is at work, readers tend to trust news content if it confirms their personal perceptions or beliefs – even if the news is fake! Confirmation bias can lower your guard so do remember to do your checks to prevent being a victim of fake news.
- Question the intent of the source
It is advisable to discern the purpose of the content. Is it to incite fear or to intentionally mislead? Or it is perhaps a satire?
TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW) is a pioneer and leading non-profit agency that champions cyber wellness and media literacy education in Singapore.
Since 2001, TCW has reached more than 320 schools and one million youths, parents, educators and counsellors through its education, advocacy and intervention efforts.