A fairly new term for us, especially most recently in regards to political news, is “fake news.” Some people seem to have different definitions of it, but its intention was news that is posted to look real but is really not true. However, others take it to mean a badly resourced news article.
Many people can get caught up in fake news, believing that it’s true, and that can cause many, many problems. This caused us to ask our writers, “What do you do when you encounter fake news?”
Alex says he doesn’t see a lot of obviously fake news, but in regards to bad journalism, he believes “we have to apply the tools that everyone has in their skeptic’s toolbox.”
He thinks everyone just needs to do their own research to see if other more more reputable news sources are reporting the same story, especially in regards to what is posted on social media. He urges everyone to check to see where scientific studies are published and if the author is affiliated with a major university. “It’s your responsibility as a citizen of your country to be properly informed.”
Fabio quite simply says he just ignores it and moves on.
Miguel explains “we’ve lived for thousands of years with more fake news than we see today, and it was better proliferated than the real stuff.” He believes that “the gravity of the problem hasn’t changed. Its coverage has.” He notes that when he encounters fake news, if it’s honest mistakes, he’ll “send a private and polite letter to the editor.” If he doesn’t care, he’ll ignore it. If a friend is sharing the story, he’ll mention his concerns privately to them.
Phil encourages his Facebook friends to use common sense. If it’s a reputable source, “they should be critical but assume there’s at least a grain of truth in it.” But if it’s something less reputable like “AngrySpecialistNewsMedia.co, then it should either be taken with a massive sack of salt or at least follows up on other sites.” He suggests if you don’t have time to follow up on the story or if no other source is carrying it, you can safely ignore it.
Simon’s first advice is “don’t click it!” He notes that “fake news strives off tugging at the emotions of people and getting them to click the link so they can show advertisements. He suggests that if the title is “particularly shocking” from an unknown website, that you put the title through a search engine. If no major publishers have run with it, it’s safe to assume it’s fake news and that it can be ignored. He also suggests letting others that link to it know that it’s fake news.
I actually write news articles, so I see this topic with a slightly different spin as a purveyor of news. I agree with what has been mentioned above about looking for sources. I always cite my sources and link back to them. The websites I reference are always the top websites. I learned really quickly which ones I should avoid. Recently three CNN journalists resigned after it was discovered they didn’t source their story really well. But because CNN was so on top of it and took care of it and pulled the story down right away, it makes me trust them more.
What’s your take on this subject? Do you tend to ignore news that you deem as fake news? Do you let the authors of the stories know they are spreading fake news? Do you only read well-sourced news? What do you do when you encounter fake news?