Beginner’s guide to stop fake news: 2021 edition

3 min read
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Fake News is exactly like the COVID-19 pandemic: It starts small, spreads like wildfire, becomes hard to contain and wreaks havoc.”

What we see is what we cannot believe in, especially in this day and age. With the exponential rise in social media users over the years, spreading misinformation takes just one click and a few seconds of your time. This “one-click” has a butterfly effect: It can lead to unwanted riots, defamation, social malpractices, political disturbances and even mass damage to health. Since the internet is the primary source of news, fake news has the unhinged power to cause destructions at an individual and community level, which makes the reason to prevent it highly urgent.

Here, we will dive into the small things one can do to not be an enabler or a facilitator of fake news on social media.

Social media is the least trusted but most used source of news from 2011 to 2020 (the irony)

According to statistics collected in the past decade, social media is the most widely available source of information yet, the least trusted one, mainly due to the sheer quantity of unreliable data available from ambiguous sources.

Verify the news source listed by websites. Do it multiple times: Just Google it.

Every news article has a list of sources towards the end. It is essential to glance at them and check if the websites are credible and honest about the news and data they share.

Do not jump on the bandwagon of sharing stuff immediately.

Whenever there is a piece of breaking news going viral on social media, we have an urge to dive right in and share it without waiting for more details. We must wait for more information to come out before we do so since there have been several instances where either the news or context is entirely misrepresented.

Check out unbiased, credible and data-driven news apps.

Humans have the urge to look for entertainment and avoid “boring” news. We also love the drama caused by extremely biased news outlets for the same reason. Sadly, these media do not provide the complete picture of a story or incident. Secondly, statistics and data play a massive role in backing up any newsflash. Apps that are unbiased and data-driven are the best sources of information.

If the news is only on WhatsApp, chances are it’s untrue.

This may not need an explanation, but do not trust shady WhatsApp forwards or get involved in them. Period.

Look for dates, timing and minute details like grammar carefully.

Verifying the date and time of any event is necessary. Simultaneously, comparing it to the date of publication ensures that we are presented with fair news. Credible news outlets never compromise on their linguistic abilities, so they seldom make grammatical errors.

Crosscheck: Do not rely on a single reference of information.

As wise humans once said, “take everything with a pinch of salt.” The more sources you refer to, the better. This reduces biases, and the chances of news being fake go down significantly too.

Read between the lines and beyond the headline.

News outlets need readers. One way to attract readers is by having catchy headlines, which may borderline on being “click-bait”. Just reading a headline and forming opinions is therefore not a safe bet for anyone.

Check if images or videos are altered and manipulated.

It is a piece of cake for anyone on social media to crop, alter, Photoshop and transform an image/video to present it as a fact. Finding out if it is original does not take much time.

Start a conversation: at home, with friends, in your surroundings.

Talk to your close ones about how fake news impacts people. Share instances and examples from what you have noticed in groups, message chains, etc., and how it may lead to someone doing wrong things. Most importantly, show care and empathy while starting the conversation.

Want to develop your personal & professional skills in a hands-on experience through AIESEC's international exchange programs? Learn more
Ayana Choubey

Related articles