March 7 2022
Misinformation and Fake News – How to Spot Them?
In the current situation, we follow the media even closer than we usually do. Because of that we need to be cautious to spot fake news and misinformation. In this article we want to share several ways to fact-check sources and use social media safely.
Don’t believe everything you see
Fake news is usually more visible and carries an emotional load. That’s why we usually want to share such content quickly, as it feeds on our anxiety, fear and the feeling of uncertainty.
Before you click “share,” verify:
- Does the information come from a reputable, credible source? We trust various influencers and follow their advice on a regular basis, however, they may not be the best source of knowledge on current affairs. Verify the source and check whether the media and respected journalists report this piece of news in the same way and whether it has been officially confirmed.
Do not rely on assumptions, “my friend knows something from a credible source”, social media group posts or comments from people with no expertise on a given subject.
- Am I sure I know everything? Relying on catchy headings and short posts may not be enough to fully asses the situation. Consume reliable formats that present facts extensively. Headings and leads may be confusing.
- Check your information against fact-checking services.
- Remember, there are bots and troll accounts on the Internet, which may look legitimate or mimic standard accounts of real people. We recommend the Brand24 profile for verification: Unmasking Misinformation.
What are the characteristics of fake news?
Such forms of misinformation follow certain patterns. If we can spot them, we can successfully verify the accuracy of most fake news.
- There is a grain of truth hidden within fake news, making the entire message more believable. Remember: one true sentence does not make the entire article true.
- Unknown author. Usually there in no source. It’s either “hearsay”, “classified” or “someone I know, saw…” When this is the case, it is a good idea to check official communications (from the police or local journalists for instance).
- Audio and video materials are also used to spread misinformation. Remember – what you see may not be related to the given situation. Old materials or doctored videos can be difficult to spot at a glance.
How can I react?
- If you want to share the news, focus on aid and official fundraisers. Remember to be cautious here too – donate to and recommend only verified organizations. A list can be found on this government website: www.pomagamukrainie.gov.pl.
- Before you bring anything to a collection site, call and ask what they currently need – online information may be outdated.
- Never click links sent to you by text or email that urge you to do something quickly.
- If you did share uncertain information that you now know is untrue, it is always a good idea to add a comment to clarify any doubts.
Remember to take care of yourself too. Check the news only at certain hours, rest and relax by taking a walk, working out or hanging out with your friends.
Misinformation can concern anything, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out not only during a crisis, but every day too