Learn how language can be used to in a way that it affects the way people perceive reality. Unlike real news, whose purpose is to simply inform, the main purpose of fake news is to confuse and manipulate people.
Before drawing conclusions about a topic and then sharing it with others, reflect on the information you have. Are you confident that the information is 100% true? If someone shares information you shared with them, are you a credible source? If the info was later discovered to be incorrect, would you be comfortable with your name attached to spreading false information?
2. Check the Source
Don’t assume information is coming from a credible place. For example, if it comes from a website, click away from it to investigate the sites history, its mission, and its contact info. You probably wouldn’t take advice from a person that’s known to have a bad reputation, or that is overly bias, so do the same when it comes to other information sources.
3. The Source’s Source
Where and how does your source get its information? A proper article should cite the information and data they are sharing. Investigate their sources for yourself. Does the information line up, was important information left out, or are facts being twisted? If they don’t have a source at all, or it comes from a non-credible source, that should be a red flag.
4. Check the Date
Does this information align with current events? Make sure you know if there have been updates to the information since it was originally published.
5. Look out for Satire
Is this just a joke that you are taking too serious? If something seems extremely outlandish, that may be by design. Again, check your source and research your author to see if this is their trend.
6. Viral Traps & Clickbait
Sometimes information is put out, especially on social media, which is meant to be misinterpreted, false, or to create rage in order to get clicks. This information often encourage clicking and spreading by using outrageous or false headlines. Sometimes the posts use language like, “please share this with everyone immediately.” Just because everyone is sharing information, it doesn’t mean it’s true.
7. Check Yourself
Could your own personal bias be making you feel a certain way about a topic and clouding your better judgement? Just because you want something to be true or false, it doesn’t make it the truth.
8. Ask an Expert
If you’re still unsure, ask someone who may have more experience on the matter. Check with non-bias fact checker resources.