Fake news has become a daily struggle for everyday citizens who try to internalize the importance of information about the world and their country. We are bombarded with countless stories and advertisements stretching from being downright bizarre to stories that appear accurate, only to have critical details subtly manipulated. These fake stories may impact perceptions of objective truth for millions of people around the world. Infamously, fake news became a point of contention in recent elections. More specifically, fake news may or may not have influenced the voting patterns of citizens in multiple countries on multiple continents. However, the threat of these false information campaigns extends beyond elections.
There are three important parts to fake news and its purpose: misinformation, mistrust, and manipulation. A large percentage of fake news is created by bots and is meant to sow discontent among citizens of countries around the world. The best way for these foreign bots to manipulate social media, which is their main way of distributing fake news, is by making their content trend on sites like Facebook or Twitter. These bots do not necessarily create trends on social media, but instead amplify and modify them by pushing forward misinformation. By doing so, these online bots are able to achieve their mission to manipulate public opinion in a targeted area by studying the online habits of people in a certain place and propagating misinformation in pursuit of their objectives.
Average citizens can gain proficiency at deciphering legitimate news from fake news on social media or websites. There are tell-tale signs that normal people as well as trained analysts can see that make false or exaggerated news distinguishable from genuine reporting. From the amount of advertisements to the language of the article, or the use of selected pictures, fake news can be spotted with the proper analytical tradecraft. Here are four ways you can spot fake news: consider the website, read beyond the headline, check the author, and check the sources.
- Check the website that you are on: does it have a lot of ads? Does it seem to be politically slanted? Does website have a lot of articles that seem profane or vulgar in nature? Then it is likely that this site is not a credible news source. Many sites like the kind described are meant for clickbait to attack its visitors in order to make use of malicious malware that attack your sensitive data.
- By reading beyond the headline and Googling the story to see if it is being reported by other more credible sites.
- By conducting research about the author and find out other pieces of work they have written and see what their credentials are. If there isn’t much information on the author or they’re not even listed then you can usually tell that the article you are reading is fake news.
- By considering where the sources come from one can tell if they are legitimate sources at all. Many fake news stories use phoney sources to cite statistics or quotes from “experts”. By doing even a simple Google search of their sources you can discover that there isn’t much basis for the claims they are making.
Many thousands of people from across the world are being affected by fake news as we speak. It is now known that fake news was targeted at elections and erodes objective truth. Here at Praescient, we are dedicated to finding new ways to sift through social media accounts that can locate the addresses of many of these fake news accounts. By doing so, Praescient has been able to help combat fake news accounts that affect many social media sites and infest the internet. Praescient is proud to have used many innovative software tools to confront fake news. Fake news is a prevalent and dangerous part of our modern society, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Schools now teach how to spot and avoid fake news and citizens can use the four tactics described above to become self aware and learn the steps that Team Praescient uses to avoid fake news.