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How to fight back against fake news on social media

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Although social media companies are taking steps to combat misinformation and fake news on their platforms, misleading content is still prevalent.

Often times, these posts get more engagement and therefore move up in our feeds, making the problem even more difficult to resolve.

Ultimately, social platforms should do more to combat fake news. But you can also push back in your own way.

How To Fight Fake News On Social Media …

What counts as fake news?

Fake news is a deliberately misleading story. Fake news content can look similar to an official news website and is usually distributed online and through social media.

Typically, fake news is created to spread a political agenda or to reduce social cohesion.

While fake news is often confused with misinformation, there is one key difference. Fake news, also known as disinformation, is made with the conscious aim of misleading others.

Misinformation, on the other hand, is a story of wrong information – but it shouldn’t possibly be misleading.

Signs that you might be dealing with fake news include:

  • Outrageous clickbait headlines.

  • An unreliable news source.

  • A story that seems far too ridiculous to ever be true.

  • Stories that seem to confirm your preconceived ideas or prejudices.

Related: News Sites You Can Trust

You should also use caution when reading content on politics, especially if it tends to either end of the spectrum.

If you feel like you are dealing with fake news or notice others doing it, the steps below will help you make a difference.

Report the major culprits

Book page with information about locking

The longer users, groups and pages are allowed to spread fake news, the more people they will mislead. Once you’ve verified that a story is fake news, take a zero-tolerance approach.

Many social media platforms allow you to report inappropriate content or accounts. If it hasn’t been removed yet, report the original post. You can usually find this in the report options.

It’s also worth doing the same with the actual user, group, or page that is sharing the content. You can do this by visiting their account page.

Try not to bother with the original post

Social media rewards popular posts, including, in some cases, misleading content. If you leave a comment on a fake news post, you run the risk of spreading it on other people’s feeds. And while you acted in good faith, your comment could be inundated if many others leave one too.

Instead, try not to bother with the original post so that it is not amplified by the platform’s algorithm. Better report it.

Correct false claims with facts

Person holding phone with twitter on the screen

While you shouldn’t bother with the original post, that doesn’t mean you have to ignore it entirely. Once you have verified that the story is not true, you can correct it with legitimate facts and statistics.

Related: Free online tests to detect and learn about fake information

To correct a fake news story without delving into the original content, take a screenshot instead. Then expose it using what you found while sharing the screenshot.

It’s also worth thinking about using relevant hashtags and keywords to further raise awareness.

Warn others that they may be looking into fake news

Person using laptop

When it comes to fighting back against fake news, helping others is important. Since social media is fast moving, it is easy for users to get involved in things without even thinking about it. Therefore, people you follow might be engaging with fake news without even realizing it.

If you see someone dealing with fake news, send them a private message. Explain that you think they accidentally told a misleading story. Once you do, report the original post.

Share your own tips

Share your best tips with other people on your social media feeds so they can also proactively take action against fake news.

Let yourself get creative with it. Instead of a standard body of text, you can create graphics or videos instead. To get the news across, be sure to pin your tips to the top of your profile.

Help us fight fake news

Fake news remains a big problem on social media. The consequences are also enormous. Intentionally misleading stories can lead to violence, discrimination, and more.

Now that you know how to fight back against fake news on social media, don’t be afraid to take the lead. Report sites and users, warn others, and debunk myths with well-researched facts.

When reading a story online, verify the facts and consume content from reliable news websites. Slowly you will help fight fake news.

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About the author

Danny Mallorca
(118 published articles)

Danny is a freelance technology writer based in Copenhagen, Denmark who moved there from his home UK in 2020. He writes on a wide variety of topics including social media and safety. Outside of writing, he’s an avid photographer.

More from Danny Maiorca

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