It comes in the form of videos, audio, photos, and articles. It moves through social networks, in text messages, WhatsApp, and even in some media outlets. The stories have scandalous, exciting, or chilling titles. It is “fake news.” Amidst the overwhelming wealth of information that we receive daily, is it possible to tells if a news story that is circulating on the Internet or in the media is fake?
The good news is that it is possible; the bad news is that it requires us to take some time to analyze the information.
Deliberate lies, misrepresentations, and tasteless
jokes are nothing new. However, with universal access to the ubiquitous Internet, it is easier than ever to create, disseminate, and share these materials faster and with greater reach.
It is no longer necessary for a foreign government to finance a group of
hackers to manipulate information with the intention of influencing some obscure political interest (like with the widely documented case of Russia). Now anyone can create audio with WhatsApp, manipulate a photo, or write an article and share it with the whole world.
Some media outlets bear a lot of responsibility when it comes to this issue; without bad intentions, but with a lack of professionalism, they serve as vehicles for the propagation of fake news.
Sadly, I have seen local Spanish-language radio announcers who, in their desperation to offer content, hurriedly share on the air any news that sounds
interesting. They do so without the slightest sense of responsibility and without checking if what they are saying is true or not.
Another point of concern is radio announcers who (instead of preparing professionally) apologize for improvisations on the air and mistreat the language. Then they suddenly appear as
opinion columnists in printed media outlets. These media outlets, in their desperation to fill space, do not check the content and allow columnists to write anything.
As long as some irresponsible media outlets insult the intelligence of their audiences with this type of situation,
fake news will continue to circulate. As long as there are gullible people who are interested in an article’s headline instead of the content, this type of information will continue to circulate.
The InternationalFederation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) provides some recommendations about actions that can help us improve our critical thinking before sharing news. Here are some of the recommendations:
Study the source
Does it come from a professional media outlet that has credibility? You can trust what La Noticia publishes. We take the job of verifying information very seriously.
Who is the author?
Do a brief search of the author to see if he or she is reliable and qualified and to confirm that the person exists.
Read beyond the headline
A shocking headline can get your attention, but it is essential to read the full story.
If it is a story published on the Internet, check the links and confirm that there is data to support the information.
Verify the date
Publishing old news does not mean that it is relevant to current events.
Is it a joke or satire?
If the information seems very exaggerated, it might be a sarcastic way of drawing attention to a topic, so do not take it too seriously.
Consider your bias
Your own beliefs can push you to share news stories that, although they align with your views, are not necessarily true.