Fake news especially in the time of Covid-19 can (and does) spread like wildfire and can do just as much damage.
But why - fake news is easy to spot right? Not always - people have been distributing false information for so long that it has had time to camouflage itself to look real. Some fake news articles also contain a mixture of correct information, which makes it difficult to spot what is true and accurate.
Types of Fake News
- Disinformation: Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organization or country for the purposes to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.
- Misinformation: Information that is false but not created to cause harm or misleading readers.
- Mal-Information: Deliberate publication of private information for personal or private interest, as well as the deliberate manipulation of genuine content.
The next time you come across information that you suspect to be fake, go through the following checklist and answer the questions before you click that share button.
Is it a trusted source?
If you don’t know the news site, check out the ‘about page’ and look at the other stories the site has published over time. If those are embellished or contain false information, chances are this story does too.
Also, googling a site’s name and looking for other articles will help you determine whether the source of your information is trustworthy or not.
Have you heard of the website before?
Fake news can be hidden on websites made to look like the real thing. Look for the classic characteristics of a fake site (bad spelling, or awkward layouts) in the URL and main content.
Type the headline into Google to see if other (reputable) news outlets are reporting on the story.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Is someone handing out iPhones to whoever provides their personal information or likes and shares a Facebook post? Don’t fall for it – no one will just start handing out iPhones to strangers on the internet.
Is it really new(s)?
Another common element in fake news is that old articles or events can resurface and lead people to believe they just happened.
Get the whole story not just a headline
A single click can help you spot fake news. Read the whole story and watch out for images, numbers, clickbait headlines and quotes that don’t have sources or that can be taken out of context.
Images can be faked
Fake news stories often contain images or videos that have been altered. Even real images can be edited to mislead with a fake date or caption.
Tip: If you suspect that the photo may have been altered, save the image and do a reverse image search on Google. You will likely find other articles containing the same image so compare the two versions to look for any significant differences.
How do you feel?
People who make fake news try to manipulate your feelings.
They know that making you angry or worried means they’re more likely to get clicks. Fake news sites rely on readers to share and engage with their articles in order for them to spread. In extreme cases, these fake articles can balloon out of control and have unintended consequences for those involved in the stories.
Ultimately – if you’re not sure if it’s true, don’t share it!
Anyone that creates or spreads fake news about the Coronavirus COVID-19 is liable for prosecution. The best thing you can do is to, before forwarding any information you’ve received to family or friends, do your own fact-checking and make sure the info is true and accurate.
If a story is more surprising or upsetting than other stories it is worth double-checking, as fake news will try to grab your attention by being more exaggerated than real stories. Don’t fall for it!
Report fake news through the Real411 website: www.real411.org
Send an email to [email protected] or a Whatsapp to 067 966 4015.
What information must I include when reporting Fake News?
The social media post, article or document deemed to be Fake News.
A link to where the post, article or document is located.
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