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Fake news: how to spot them?

The last one year was turbulent, to say the least, and this year seems to keep surprising us – not necessarily in a good way. Conspiracy theories around the deadly Covid-19 are abundant, that's why it is good to revise some basic rules when it comes to the news we digest.

Fake news are a major issue all over the world – either used to generate more profit for a certain media company, or as a propaganda tool. Young people shall be aware of the credibility of what they are reading as the media is one of the things shaping our reality and our world views.

News can reach us online in many ways – while scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even through memes, we don’t have to browse a specific website to find out something which happened minutes ago. So, what are the key things we shall keep in mind when we see a new piece of information labeled as “news”?

Source & author

  • Where did you find this article?

There is a huge difference between a random piece of information you have spotted on your social media feed and a properly written material on a credible platform. Also, be careful with websites with a dodgy domain, bad design, plenty of ads all over the place (even between paragraphs), and ridiculously dramatic headlines.

  • Who delivered those news?

Reading an article written by someone with bold views on a certain issue, for example, might influence your reading experience as the person may be presenting just one side of the story without trying to be objective. It is important to know who the writer is – is it a professional journalist or just a random individual behind the keyboard? Be critical and know the mind behind the presented “facts”.

Quality, date and references

  • Is the text even good?

Spelling mistakes are a sign of a poorly written material. A reliable website which aims to be as professional as possible always double-checks the text before publishing it.

  • When was the text published?

Do not forget to check the date of publication. Always read up-to-date news – they are the most accurate ones. Reading updates on a daily basis is essential, especially in the situation the world is currently facing.

  • Are there any references and quotes?

Good journalists and authors use reliable sources and include interviews. Unreliable texts are the ones lacking any of those. Not only that, but if you do not find any coverage on what you’re reading anywhere else, chances are that the published material is just fake news.

Never forget that knowledge is power - the knowledge which is accurate, factual, reliable. Don't give the opportunity to anyone to mislead you, be objective, ask questions and read from a wide variety of sources.

"Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance."

George Bernard Shaw

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