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Tech Tip Tuesday: How to Spot Fake News


Internet articles make up the majority of where Americans get their news and information. While easily accessible and convenient, when fake news comes into the mix, it can be difficult to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Articles containing misinformation or disinformation are just as common as factual news these days.

So, how do you spot fake news? While fake news might seem harmless, it can cause real consequences for everyone involved in the article. There are several ways to ensure the articles you’re reading and sharing are based on real facts. It just takes a little bit of research.

Check if the website is reputable

First and foremost, always check that the site you’re getting your information from is reputable. Check the URL for abnormalities such as “. com . co” or misspellings of notorious news sites. Make sure you read the “About Us” section of the site as well. You might be surprised to find the site you are on is a conspiracy site or satire just by reading the about section. Additionally, Snopes.com keeps a running list of fake websites that you can use to cross-reference.

Read the whole article before sharing

One of the most common ways fake news spreads comes from social media. People will share an article without reading beyond the headline. Often, within the body of the article, there will be disclaimers alerting the reader that the article is a joke or that information is not fact-checked. Headlines are designed to grab attention and create an emotional response. Make sure the headline isn’t the only thing you base your opinions on.

Look at the Date on the Article

Sometimes old news articles will recirculate causing confusion. While the article will contain some truth, sometimes when news recirculates it can change the way current news is perceived. An example is a famous figure visiting a country we are currently in conflict with. That may have happened in the past and we may not have been in conflict at the time, but currently, it would cause an uproar if it were true.

Check the author

Always check the author of the article. You might find a series of accomplishments under their name that sound respectable. A quick google search of the author will tell you if they are as accomplished as they claim and whether you can trust the source you are reading. Remember, people can say whatever they want on the internet and it’s up to us to make sure it’s trustworthy.

Be Aware of Satire

As mentioned before, satire and joke articles are commonly shared as fact. Sites such as The Onion, The Daily Mash, and the Borowitz Report are all known for their satire, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t fooled anyone. Keep your eye on where articles are coming from before sending or sharing them with your friends.

Look at the sources

If the article cites its sources, check them. Taking this extra step might uncover that while the article is from a reputable site, the sources are not unreputable. This could mean the writer made a mistake or that they were fooled by misinformation. When you check an article’s sources, you’re avoiding much of the same and helping keep fake news out of circulation.

Fact Check Viral Posts and News

The best way to avoid fake news is to always fact-check viral posts and news. Sometimes if an article is sensational enough, it will go viral even if the content is 100% fake. You can easily fact-check an article using sites such as Snopes.com, The Washington Post Fact Checker, or Politifact.com. If the article is popular, chances are it has already been checked by one of these sources.

Stay Safe Out There

In conclusion, you are the first line of defense against fake news. Taking a few extra minutes before you share an article can help keep fake news out of the cycle and stop it from going viral. For more information on recognizing fake news, contact your local IT company.

That’s all for this week’s Tech Tip Tuesday – We’ll see you next time!

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