Sketchy information from dishonest politicians, social media platforms & foreign countries, make it increasingly difficult to sort out factual from fake news. So, how to spot fake news?
We need tools for quick & easy verification!
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” – Winston Churchill
If your pressed for time…
- Fact Checking web sites are a quick way to verify information
- Social Media is NOT your friend when it comes to facts
- False news travels really fast, truth does not!
- Be skeptical of all Social Media statements
- Consider the source
- Verify with other reputable sources
- Social Media can have a negative emotional impact on you
- Yes, foreign powers will be spreading disinformation in 2020
Let’s look at the toll of fake social media & how to combat it…
Fake Social Media… Travels Fastest!
Shocking gossip makes the rounds well in advance of simple truth. Juicy details always grab our attention! The truth is often lost.
It’s part of human nature. Consequently, Social media’s misleading information, masked by polished infographics & doctored photos are plagued by the same issues.
Generally, the most salacious posts gain the most traction. Fake news stories are roughly 70% more likely to be re-shared on social media than accurate reporting and facts.
Consequently, it takes accurate news roughly six times longer to reach people than fake social media news.
Why Does Fake News Spread so Quickly?
Clearly, some of the claims made on social media seem too ludicrous to be true, yet they still manage to proliferate.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter aren’t intended to be the news & purveyors of facts. Their primary motivation is to keep your attention for as long as possible. Your attention sells more adds.
Based upon what Facebook, Twitter and Google know about you, they are quite good at matching up articles that resonate with you. If you then share that information with others, their business model works.
When a trusted friend shares a news post with you, it’s only natural to give them the benefit of the doubt.
What was originally a fun distraction has now taken on an air of importance for which it wasn’t designed.
As psychology professor Colleen Seifert pointed out in a recent New York Times article, “What [Facebook] is actually doing is keeping your eyes on the site. It’s curating news and information that will keep you watching.”
“Facebook, Google, and Twitter function as a distribution mechanism, a platform for circulating false information and helping find receptive audiences,” said Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth College.
Social Media Fake News – Politics
Currently, the divisiveness of US politics is front & center. Vitriol from both sides of the political spectrum is at an all time high; at least in my lifetime. And, there’s still about 100 days to go until the election! The engine of political disinformation is gaining steam.
2 Facebook Ad’s courtesy of Russian Trolls in 2016
With Russian Troll farms pumping out thousands of pages of targeted social media during election cycles, a critical eye is important going into the 2020 election. Make an informed decision on the facts.
Photos courtesy of 2017 Business Insider Article
On Jan 6th, 2020, an Arizona Congressman sent this tweet and doctored photo with the caption: “The World is a better place without these guys in power”
Actual photo on left: Obama & then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011
Doctored photo on right: Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Obama has never met Rouhani
As we witnessed in 2016, no matter your political persuasion, the need to question what is presented on social media has never been more important.
If a politically motivated post does catch your eye, some due diligence on your part, might be necessary.
The Impact of Fake Social Media News… on you
In addition to influencing politics, fake news on Social Media:
- Foments hate groups and hate crimes, increasing discrimination, and provides a platform for disreputable journalists.
- Negatively Impacts your emotional state. Statistically, excessive time on social media does not make you happier.
- Disseminates incorrect health advice — Up to 90% of health tips and “facts” shared from social media influencers are inaccurate, and potentially dangerous.
How to Spot Fake News… Before you share it
Verify with a few more clicks
- Approach ALL news reported on social media with skepticism. Social Media is a known purveyor of inaccurate information!
- Consider the source – Are you familiar with the author or group? Could you confirm the source with a few more clicks?
- Have other reputable news source also reported on the information?
For Example, was Hillary Clinton abusing children in the basement of a pizza shop in Washington DC?
It was widely circulated online in 2016. If that were true, there’s a strong possibility that the NY Times, LA Times, Fox & Wall Street Journal would be following the story as well.
The story was shared thousands of times. A concerned citizen, Edgar Welch, actually stormed the Pizza Parlor with an AR15 and fired shots at the supply room locks, in a misguided effort to “free the children.” Fortunately, no one was hurt & misguided Edgar was arrested.
How to Spot Fake News -Fact Checking Web sites
These independent, non partisan web sites have a simple mission:
- Track what our political leaders say on a wide range of topics
- Research and determine wether they are telling the truth
- Forego any political slant, regardless of party
The sites provide a quick & easy method of verifying that what’s being espoused by the politician of the moment, is rooted in fact!
How to Spot Fake News – Social Media’s Dilemma
Politicians stretch the truth or flat out lie… Hold them accountable.
Social Media is a great way to stay connected with friends or catch up with your favorite athlete or celeb. It isn’t a reliable news outlet. Facebook, Twitter & Instagram are working diligently to address their policy on how to best handle fake news.
At the end of the day, the responsibility lies with us; the readers and gate keepers of what goes into social media circulation. Or what’s passed on at a social gathering.