Knowing the Risks: Misinformation/Fake News
A few websites deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation — using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. Unlike news satire, fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gains.
How it Spreads?
False information spreads just like accurate information- through the network. The role of “gatekeepers” is central to whether something goes viral or not. These gatekeepers – people who are well placed within a network to share information with others – are often old-fashioned journalists or people “in the know”. Gatekeepers tend to ‘push’ the content from relatively obscurity into their ‘circle of influence’ where further network effects help make the content go viral.
How to Identify Fake News?
Pay attention to the domain and URL
Sites with such endings like .com.co should make you raise your eyebrows and tip you off that you need to dig around more to see if they can be trusted. This is true even when the site looks professional and has semi-recognizable logos.
For example, abcnews.com is a legitimate news source, but abcnews.com.co is not, despite its similar appearance.
Read the “About Us” section
If it’s melodramatic and seems overblown, you should be skeptical. Also, you should be able to find out more information about the organization’s leaders in places other than that site.
Look at the Quotes
Most publications have multiple sources in each story who are professionals and have expertise in the fields they talk about. If it’s a serious or controversial issue, there are more likely to be quotes — and lots of them. Look for professors or other academics who can speak to the research they’ve done. And if they are talking about research, look up those studies.
Look at Who said them
Then, see who said the quotes, and what they said. Are they a reputable source with a title that you can verify? Google those quotes.
Check the Comments
These stories usually generate a lot of comments on Facebook or Twitter. If a lot of these comments call out the article for being fake or misleading, it probably is.
Reverse Image Search
If people who write these fake news stories don’t even leave their homes or interview anyone for the stories, it’s unlikely they take their own pictures. Do a little detective work and reverse search for the image on Google. You can do this by right-clicking on the image and choosing to search Google for it. If the image is appearing on a lot of stories about many different topics, there’s a good chance it’s not actually an image of what it says it was on the first story.