Let’s share a few tricks for how to spot fake news.
You know what we are talking about: you scroll through your Facebook news overview and come across a shocking news item. “The moon landing was fake!” Immediately you want to click on the item: what’s going on here ?! But did you know even more convincing news could just as well be fake news? They can also set you up with false information via your email.
What is fake news?
The name says it all: fake news is news that is not real. It is often shocking or terrifying “news” that misleads people. We also call such terrifying titles clickbait. An online platform shares an item with an exciting headline that causes many people to click and end up on a website.
Clickbait is mainly used to get people to a website. Why? Because high visitor numbers make a website interesting for advertisers. The owner of the website can therefore earn a lot of money if a lot of people end up on his website. Sometimes it is also intended to deliberately mislead people in order to influence public opinion. This happens, for example, during election campaigns.
So, where do you come across fake news? Basically everywhere online.
Fake news on other social media
Besides Facebook there are of course other social media platforms where fake news is shared. Think of Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest. People can say things that sound quite convincing, but are completely false. Companies can buy advertisements and bug you with these ads that can be full of wrong information. They can be sammers, tricking you to transfer money for something that they will never send…Not to say all do. The majority does everything ethically correct. But you only need one to empty your bank account…
Fake news via email: phishing
Phishing is the sending of a fake email asking you to share sensitive information. Phishing emails are often used to steal bank details. The email really seems to come from your bank (although there are also clearly fake variants), but remember: a bank never requests this type of information via email! If you suspect that it is a fake email, contact your bank immediately by telephone. Your bank can then verify whether it is correct.
This is how you recognize fake news
Scrolling through your news feed, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish fake from real. Check these 6 tricks to spot fake news.
1. A terrifying or shocking title
That clickbait, which we talked about earlier, often gives away that it is fake news. A terrifying title or shocking fact. Where many people fall for is celebrity news, such as “This actress has had plastic surgery more than 10 times”. Political ‘news’ is also often passed by. “The president has already been reelected!” Is an example of this.
2. A fierce photo
A blurry photo where you just can’t see who it is. Or an image of a serious accident. Often the photo immediately calls attention to the news item and you want to know who it is and what happened…
3. An unreliable sender
The sender of fake news on social media is often an unknown source or a news site, but misspelled. In a phishing email, the sender is often the name of your bank, but with a slightly different logo, not the official e-mail address and / or a separate writing tone. Hover your mouse over a link in an email before you click on it! The link will pop up, and you can read and check if it is a valid website. Check the spelling. And be on the lookout for tricks like replacing the letter o for the number 0. If it doesn’t look like the right address: DON’T clock on it!
4. The ad does not lead to the article
Since fake news is fake, it is usually not possible to write an entire article about it. If you click on the news ad in your timeline, you will not land on the article that was about the news. Instead, you go to a website full of crazy headlines or directed to a page where you could spend all your money on crazy products that you probably never will receive..
5. Website is full of advertisements
Is the website you land on to read the news story littered with ads? And can you not find many articles that are really about something? There is a good chance that this website is intended to attract visitors via clickbait and to bring in advertisements with these visitor numbers. Not a reliable source!
6. No reporting by other media
Have you discovered an impressive piece of news and do you want to know if it is real? Check with other (reputable) news websites whether they also talk about this. Use your search engine. If it is really true, more media will know about it and report it too. Can’t find anything about it? Safe bet you can call it fake news!
Satire is not fake news
If you know the Tonight Show, you know what satire is. It may seem like fake news, but it is actually intended to bring recent (often political) developments to light in a mocking way. With satire platforms, you know it’s fake news. It is not to deceive but rather to draw attention to the truth.
The rule of thumb for monitoring your online safety is always: use your common sense. Do you get a strange feeling with a message? Then ignore it. Do you not completely trust an email from your bank? Then do not click on any link and contact your bank by telephone to verify who the sender is. Be also just as careful if a friend forwards you some news or a link. Often they are not hacked, but fell for the fake news trap, believing something shocking actually happened, while in fact it has not. Be smarter!