By Nompumelelo Nkosi
Nowadays, anyone can have a news website or a page where they share information, especially now that we rely and live on social media for updates on new developments around the world. Sharing of false information is considered illegal and perpetrators could be prosecuted.
Millions of people share links on social media and make them go viral to trick social media users. Everyone now has access to computers and can just about make up anything and post it on the net. It’s hard to tell which news is real or fake. Facebook and Google have taken upon themselves to protect readers on social media. The tech industry has decided to launch ways to stop the spread of fake news.
Facebook has announced that it is adding a box to the top of the News Feed for users in fourteen countries that offers tips on “spotting false news.” Fact finder explains that a lot of these viral claims aren’t “news” at all, but fiction, satire and efforts to fool readers into thinking they are for real.
The organization encourages people to make use of the delete button when they receive chain messages of social media or e-mail accounts. It is also advised that you read beyond the headline. Most fake news draw readers with shocking headlines. Read a little bit of the story to get an idea on whether the story is legit or not. Fake news writers go to so much trouble and risk being caught by the law.
They often use different byline (author) names on different fake sites. The aim or purpose of these stories can be to set a certain agenda or incite some action on the society, making them dangerous to for the society. It is reported that the number one aim of these stories is satire. The authors are trying to be “funny” by publishing certain stories not realizing the damage they actually causing.
In a News24 report, there’s a lift of tips on how to spot fake news from a number of media experts:
Look to see if reputable news sites are also reporting on the story;
Check for odd-look for domain names;
Check the “about Us” tab on websites or look up the website on snopes for more information about the source;
Watch out for common news websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources;
Bad web design and use of all caps can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified.
If the story makes you really angry it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry in order to generate shares and advertising revenue.
Media experts suggest that schools and universities/colleges should be made aware of fake news. This means including studies on social media and focusing on media literacy because today, everything revolves around media and almost every literate person owns a smart phone.