A shocking Cnet study finds that 45 percent of Americans adults rely on Facebook for news stories and is the world’s largest search engine for news. The study also found that four out of ten adults consume news exclusively online.
Nowadays, people rely on the world’s largest social network and the world’s most popular search engine for news. Now, they are being accused of showcasing “fake news stories.”
According to The New York Times, one fake story which was posted on Facebook claimed Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump, and some commentators accused Facebook of changing votes to favor Trump.
Mediaite reported that searching for the “final election vote count 2016” on Google led to a bogus story on 70news, which stated that Trump was beating Clinton in the popular vote.
Google announced quickly that they would block websites that peddle fake news from using their online advertising. Facebook changed their Audience Network Policy to forbid showing ads in sites that have incorrect content. The policy changes at Facebook and Google are indicators of how Americans need to be more careful in what they click and verify if what they are looking at is true.
In a world of never-ending content, audiences should be aware of seeing where stories take you: Are these sites trustworthy? Can you fact-check to see if other outlets are reporting similar ideas?
There are several ways for Americans to fact-check that are simple. Below are some examples.
- Check the domain.
Established news organizations usually have their own domain and URL, like cnn.com, washingtonpost.com or nytimes.com. Cnn.com.co or washingtonpost.com.co would not be trustworthy sites.
Also, be sure to check for disclaimers in copyrights and corners. Also, if you see friends share stories they believe are real from satirical websites like The Onion or ClickHole, be a trustworthy friend and kindly inform them that their articles are not to be taken seriously.
- Check the quotes and go back to the original source
When you are reading quotes, google the quotes and see if they were actually said. In order to fact-check properly, always go back to the original source.
For example, if someone in a news outlet quoted Donald Trump from a book or interview he did, go back to that source and see if he actually said that quote. There could be transcripts of the interview online or excerpts of books on the internet. If a news story features many experts or professors talking about research, go back to their studies.
- See if other news outlets picked the story up
You can compare the article to other sources and see if other reputable news outlets picked up similar stories.
- Use fact-checking sites
Another solid way to fact-check is to use sites like Snopes, Factcheck.org, and PolitiFact, which all conduct great in-depth research.
- Reverse search images
If people write fake news stories, they usually do not take their own photos. Reverse search for images on Google. You can right-click on the photo and search Google for it. If the images is popular on other sites, then the image probably is not representative of the story you saw it from.
Even people in the media succumb to this problem, including Fox News commentator Sean Hannity.
Hannity came under fire after using a piece of fake news which reported President Obama deleted endorsements of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from his Twitter account.
Later, Hannity apologized and said the fake news story came from a site called “Your News Wire,” which does not always publish credible content. He and his fact-checkers could have easily avoided this controversy with a Twitter search on Obama’s account.
Overall, making sure the content you read shows how serious you are in consuming your news. While it is good Facebook and Google are taking steps to changing this problem, as Americans, it is our duty to stay correctly informed. Doing so will only make for a better America.
Should more Americans be literate in what they consume? Tweet @issabasco.