Combatting Fake News in 5 Simple Steps

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Fake news is bloating the web. How can we do about it? Here’s some steps anyone can take to take part in the campaign against fake news. (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

Within a few months, Indonesia is about to undergo a five-yearly political ‘ordeal’ called presidential election. In 2014, we saw how the loathesome politics before our naked eyes.

And it takes no time for us to see fake news circulating around the web in a glimpse of an eye. Last presidential election offered us a cruel description of how disgusting this band of political clowns with their intrigues could become play with people who knew almost nothing about their grand plans ‘behind the screen’.

And this fake news plague make all of us without exception prone to deceitful plots of their digital troops responsible for claiming the presidential throne.

In response to this alarming phenomenon of fake news, every one of us must be involved and feel obliged to combat it.

Here’s how you can combat fake news around us as cited from Quartz.com.

Ensure sources of information

You may be familiar with popular and large news outlets such as New Yorker, The New York Times, or Tempo (in Indonesia). But be aware of the fake domains that are manipulated in such a way to trick the careless eyes. For example, the official site of New Yorker Magazine is http://wwww.newyorker.com/. But there are some other almost similar domains that are made to deceive internet users, such as thenewyorker.net or newyorkermagazine.org. This may look the same with the official site, but to the untrained eyes, those look pretty much similar.

According to Quartz, don’t just trust a news outlet domain only after reading one article. Try reading other articles or even navigate through the entire site to get to know what the site is really about.  Does the site really qualify for the quality journalism standards? (Read more here to learn more about journalism standards and ethics).

Assess headlines’ tone

You’d better be cautious when a webiste you read shows headlines that are too provoking emotionally. The tone of headline is another criterion to assess in a news website if you are to avoid spreading fake news in the internet.

The tone of headline in a trustworthy news outlet must be neutral and unbiased.

But how do you can define neutrality?

Let’s say you read a headline, and suddenly you feel a jolt of anger or sadness or disappointment, chances are the news you’re reading is fake and the website you’re visiting is a fake news website.

Find out who the writers/ reporters/ editors are

Do you know what sets the trustworthy news websites apart from fake news ones? The availability of information of the identity of news makers/ people behind those articles or web content.

On trustworthy news outlets such as NewYorker.com, we can see information of writers/ reporters/ editors. This includes what they have written so far so we are not in the dark about what their motifs are. If they are true journalists, there is no way they would compromise and trade their integrity for financial or personal gain.

So if you read a website that only shows “an admin” produced the article and you can’t find any real person name there, you should be suspicious.

Find the primary sources’ reliability

One main sign that a news piece is fake is that it has been distributed and quoted by so many people that we can no longer find who made the statement in the first place. Too often than not, we see rumors are distributed this way. People keep repeating it until no one can tell who or what produced the news initially.

And by “primary sources”, we also refer to reliable experts as sources for journalists to clarify our hypotheses. If an article says “Scientists state walking can fight cancer”, we’d better know which scientists the article is talking about, what institution they work at, and other details that support our investigation.

Beware of repurposed old images

We sometimes are instantly agitated to see a heart-wrenching photograph of – let’s say- a person’s calamity owing to someone else’s neglect, evil intention or thirst of power circulating on the web. This was especially true when the Rohingya humanitarian crisis broke. Someone with ill intention took an old photo and repurposed that in such a way to convince internet users like you and me that that photo reflected what really happened in Myanmar.

To find out whether those viral photos are repurposed ones or real and updated, you can simply go to Google Image to search when they were first circulated on the web.

Be aware as well of the possibility of context misuse. What I am trying to say is that a certain photo can be used to illustrate another event or incident. For example, we might see photos of victims of Aceh tsunami victims in 2004 circulating again after a tsunami hit Palu and Donggala this year (2018). Though the type of natural disaster is quite similar but they are different cases and scale of severity. (*/)

 

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