In this new digital age of internet, instant messaging and social media, the insidious culture of misinformation and alternate fact has not only taken root but grown into the full fledged scourge of Fake News.
What is Fake News?
Fake news loosely refers to misleading, deceptive or even down right false information, peddled as a propaganda campaign or even a clickbait gimmick to attract visitors to sites, sometimes for “fairly harmless” reasons and pranks, in the pursuit for internet notoriety, publicity and traffic, other times for more sinister deliberate motives.
How can it be curbed?
Its both ridiculously easy and mind-bogglingly difficult, especially as fake news is propagated unknowingly; maybe you have even unwittingly shared fake news to your group or circles, if we all made a conscious effort to
Stop; before you press that forward button
Reflect; on the information
Verify; if its true
….. always share responsibly
The next thing you share could just cause the death of someone, that’s how serious the consequences of fake news can get or be the spark to an already volatile situation, are you sure its true?
How to spot fake news:
1. Read beyond the article headlines
Some articles carry misleading or sensational titles and images as click-baits, the article content and its title might actually be worlds apart.
2. Check the source
Where did you get this article or information from, does it originate from the official site/source or one which you can trust? Check again, fake news peddlers can copy logos and colours of the reliable sources or even photoshop articles onto screenshots of from verified profiles. If in doubt don’t forward it or at least let whom you are sharing with know its unverified and not just quick to say breaking news
3. Check the author
After considering where you got the article consider who wrote it, are they reliable, or verified, making sure it really is from whom it says its from, similar to the source above
4. Look for supporting facts
Check if any credible sources support it, go ahead break the internet but its not your job to break the news, especially if you have not done the due diligence.
5. Check the dates
Something as simple as checking when an article was published could have change the context completely
6. Check Images
Some people share file footage as current and that’s when Google image reverse search is your friend, it can scout images on the internet for you
7. Determine who the audience is?
No one just writes open-endedly, there is always a target audience and a reason. Check to see if the article is not meant to simply trigger a response or manipulate you in a particular way, it might be meant to be a joke or satire
8. Ask the experts
Have go to people you can ask or verify with, even the traditional media houses issue updates on their social pages
9. Know the different types of content
Knowing if a publication is fact, opinion piece, a paid review, rumours, satire, or even fiction it will help put things into perspective.
10. Acquaint yourself with the fact checking services
The are various fact checking sites on the interweb such as
You think you can spot misleading stories? try this quiz with general and Kenya-specific examples
PS here’s my score I #pledge to #stopReflectVerify before sharing responsibly
Photocredits: Stop Reflect and Verify YaliNetwork