In our day and age, everything seems to be becoming fast-paced.
We have messaging services that require a simple tap of the “send” button to reach someone. We have social media to thank for the photo updates from our friends as far as the other side of the world. With a simple search on Google, one may already access thousands and millions of sites and articles.
Information has become limitless yet so accessible.
We have become so accustomed to this way of living that sometimes our brain forgets to process the amount of information it is taking in.
This entails to us losing touch of the part of us that yearns to search for the truth. Simply because we cannot find the time to fully sort out everything that we are taking in.
This may be one of the reasons why most people are so quick to believe in fake news.
Some of you might say that that is not an excuse for not wanting to know the truth or that it is not an excuse to not check the credibility of something posted online.
Then again, you are probably the same person who would say “Ugh, but it’s from the internet, why would you believe it?”
Whether you are the person to believe fake news or the internet-skeptic person, here are 8 things to keep in mind when reading news online:
1.) Be doubtful of headlines — most fake news would contain the most outrageous and unbelievable headlines that you can read. They may also have ones that are plainly controversial so as to spark interest.
Netizens have coined this strategy as clickbait. Clickbaiting is a way for sites to bring in more visits. In turn, they are able to monetize these visits through the ads that are on their site. This is also practiced by people in content marketing – Manila.
Clickbaits are also used to redirect you to other news (e.g. A headline saying “Caitlin Jenner finally decides that SHE wants to be a MAN again!” would most likely redirect you to an article on the site that would have no connection to Caitlin Jenner whatsoever.)
2.) Check the URL — if you have not noticed it yet, most sites that post fake news would have a web address that is very similar to a credible news site. It is a strategy that employs the tricks of optical illusions.
The mind automatically digests the news without further question because it spotted a previously trusted source. (e.g. There is a site named “cnn-trending.com” even sporting the CNN logo in hopes to fully imitate CNN.)
3.) Research on the source — make sure to always check the source.
There would be times where non-established brands or organizations would post news. If you do not know them yet, you might regard their post as fake news.
Make sure that you go to their site and research their “About” section. It would key you in their credibility.
4.) Read on — do not stop at the headline. Most fake news would have badly written articles and false supporting evidence. Make sure to go beyond the headline to check these out.
Details of the news are supposed to make sense. They should be aligned with current events (date-wise), correct spelling and grammar, and should also have other credible sources reporting on the same thing.
5.) Inspect the photos/videos — fake news would normally have altered photos or doctored videos in order to provide a sense of credibility to their report.
Sometimes, they may also use multimedia material that would closely resemble whatever the article is about but then it’s just another image from the internet.
(i.e. In the Philippines, the “Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines” recently posted an article about the Marawi siege. It included a photo of soldiers evacuating civilians. Upon further research, citizens have learned that the captioned photo was actually grabbed online and that the people in the photo were from Vietnam. This is also because the Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary, Mocha Uson, is a vile spreader of fake news.)
6.) Be wary of the tone and pragmatics — some stories are intentionally false or are jokes. Read the full article whether it suggests are more lighthearted tone and is poking fun.
Also, check the news site if they are known to post humor content instead of news.
7.) Check your biases — you may not be aware of it, but sometimes your emotions may cloud your judgment. It’s healthy for you (not only fact checking-wise) to always keep your biases in check.
8.) Ask for help — sometimes the best thing that we can do is to actually just seek help.
You may ask librarians or academics for help if you still are not fully confident with the credibility of an article. There are also fact-checking sites online that can help you out.
In our fast-paced world, we still need to find the time to sit back and process the information we take in.
Digesting news will only be helpful to you and to the people around you if you’re digesting the right ones.