A number of new studies show that Americans aren’t very good at spotting fake news. Are you?
Many fake news sites spoof credible ones, using a similar URL and logo. For example, ABC News could appear as abc-news.com with a similar logo, to trick people into believing they are reading credible news. Also, look at the website’s “Contact” and “About Us” pages. If there’s no editorial contact or the description of their purpose and mission is vague or missing altogether, that could be a sign that the site was created solely to shape public perception with misleading or false stories. Do a quick Google search of the website. Is there a history of bad press about the source? Some sites have been outed as venues for foreign governments to intervene in our elections.
Does the article have a byline? If so, does the author have a track record of quality content? Did the writer interview reputable sources and include direct quotes and links to supporting information? Is the writing clean or is it full of errors? All of this matters, because legitimate journalists conduct themselves in a legitimate manner, while trolls aren’t concerned with following journalistic standards and practices.
If you’re on the fence about the credibility of a source, do some research. Are other outlets reporting on the same matter? Do you see recurring themes as far as the facts being reported? People or organizations with malicious intentions will create their own narrative and it’s usually not supported by other accounts.
Does the website have a lot of pop-up and banner ads? Many misleading sites have a lot of those. Other sites feature shocking headlines but the text of the stories don’t support the outlandish claim(s) being made. Does the story seem a bit far-fetched? Does it align with your beliefs and make you angry? Many fake news stores are written specifically to invoke anger. Be aware of confirmation bias. That’s the tendency to put more stock in information that confirms your beliefs than information that doesn’t.