“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
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
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
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
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
Read between the lines and beyond the
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
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
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