Today there are many “news sites” that actually share alarming information to generate visits and get easy profits.
As you probably know, Mexicans used to depend on a single large television media corporation and some newspapers to learn about the events that were happening in the world. At that time, many journalists strongly believed that they had a sacred duty to give accurate information to help the public stay informed.
However, as the Internet evolved, we began to run into a crisis that nobody could predict: the news is always available and comes from different sources. That’s not bad, the problem is that many times we do not know if the data is real or not.
Social networks help to share information, but people have started to confuse legitimate news with notes designed to be click bait (just so you can click). This causes that sometimes we share alarming news that is not real and that causes panic in subjects that are not generating conjuncture.
The problem is so big that both Facebook and Google have announced that they will implement tools to eliminate these false news. However, both platforms can not completely control all the links that people share on social networks. They can only reduce ads and search rankings. That means that the responsibility to recognize and share only real news falls directly on you.
Did you ever think that you would become a news expert? Our grandparents depended on the judgment of an editor who determined what news was important during the day (which they did not always do well or without interest). We live in a society in which we have to determine what is trustworthy. This guide will help you detect fake news on your social networks.
1. Traditional news
In the school of journalism, our teachers emphasize the importance of ethics and it is expected that when we graduate, professionals will behave with a certain level in the newsrooms. Whether we work on television, newspapers, magazines or websites, the real professionals S OLO REPORT VALID ACTS BY RECOGNIZED SOURCES .
In some cases, we work with cables from agencies such as Associated Press , Reuters , AFP or Notimex . We may find out about an event through these services, but on many occasions we have to make our own report and investigate on our own.
Professional journalists do much more than research some web pages. They make calls, interview, go to the place of events, cover events, and so on.
That is, they do not write the data they found on a page of 2005 conspiracies that are not backed by recognized sources. The Daily Dot has a list of some sites with false news in English.
2. Branded content
Public relations professionals are an important part of journalistic work. This means that informants constantly receive requests to cover launches, corporate activities and press releases. The content produced by brands, which can be very useful and high value when done correctly, is gaining popularity in the network.
While the information is useful and well reported, the reader can approach this information with confidence.
Unfortunately, there are some brands whose information may contain some errors as they get their data from simple Google searches. In some infamous cases, companies have paid for scientific studies to promote their products. This highlights the importance of reviewing the source of the information to ensure that there are no interests involved.
3. Manufactured news
One of the biggest problems facing the recent US presidential election was the absurd amount of fabricated news that was generated by both parties. All with alarmist and ridiculous headlines similar to those we found in the tabloids of yesteryear. We still do not know how big its effect was on the results of the elections.
These notes use the most sensational headlines possible to cause people to share them. With every click, a website earns money. Therefore, the more alarming the head of the note (or click bait ), the more money the website will receive.
These notes have no journalistic foundation, but sometimes they generate more clicks than serious news sites.
How to identify false news
It may seem difficult, but there are a series of very direct steps you can follow to identify if a news item on Facebook is false and therefore you should share it:
1. Check the head: your first signal is a headline too alarmist, ridiculous or improbable. Sometimes they even have obvious spelling or grammar mistakes. Serious news programs usually check their texts several times before approving them.
2. Analyze the source: although traditional media such as Televisa, El Universal, CNN, BBC, The New York Times, among others, deserve their dose of criticism, they usually employ trained journalists to review data and corroborate sources before publishing.
It is a good starting point. If the note you are reading comes from a site called DespiertaMéxicoHoyYSiempre.blogspot.com – for setting a bad example – then you can assume that it is not a reliable source.
3. Read the note: it sounds obvious, but the fake notes have alarmist headlines to cause you to share the link. The best thing you can do before doing it, is to read the note to see if the information is valid, is signed by an author and if it really has to do with the title.
Check that the data, dates, events and even photographs are consistent with what they say they communicate. Even check the date of publication to not be sharing an old news.
4. Check other sources: that is, ‘google’ the note to see if other media bring that information. There is a maxim in journalism that a teacher at my school of communication usually says: ‘If your mom tells you she loves you, check it with two sources.’
5. Question: if you know someone who is involved in the issue in question, do not be afraid to ask. It is better to know directly if the news is true or a ridiculous exaggeration.
I know that it seems a very tedious process, but it is necessary to share relevant, useful and circumstantial information. Why do you think omdimas measles cases have increased in the United States? Because false news linking vaccination with autism gained much popularity.
When the information passes these filters, then you can share it. But avoid doing it if you think it can be false, otherwise you can misinform or generate unnecessary panic.