There is so much fake news on social networks and messengers that it can be very difficult to distinguish it from the truth. Here’s a memo on how to verify information. Also, here are some useful tools and sites.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Check Who’s Writing
First, see if the account in the social network or messenger has a verification checkbox. Real channels usually have it. As well as a full description of the channel.
It is not unreasonable to visit the official site – if it is a media outlet, an organization, or a well-known figure, for example. There will be real links to social networks. Compare: what if the account in front of you is fake?
Some channels and accounts pretend to be verified publications or officials. Fakes can shorten the name, spell it with badges, misspell the name, add letters, and so on.
If you encounter a resource (a telegram channel, a social network account) that you haven’t heard of before, check it particularly carefully.
- See if other channels you trust refer to it.
- Check the followers of the page. Usually there aren’t many people who subscribe to fake sites, or most of them are blank pages.
- Look at the activity of the account, look at photo albums. Real accounts post photos incrementally. Fake accounts often don’t have many photos and post them in a day or two.
If the news is posted on someone’s personal account, check to see if you can trust him. The first signs of a “trash” account: little (or, conversely, a lot) of subscribers, an empty page (or solid reposts). Profiles sometimes have few photos, or those photos are not unique.
For example, on our website you can read the actual news from all over the Europe!
Step 2: Check If The Source Is Stated (And If You Can Trust It).
Check the source of the news, see if there’s a link to it. If in doubt, follow the link and check whether the information has been distorted.
If the news refers to an expert, you can check it via search engines or social networks. If the link refers to another channel, go to it and check its reliability (and the source of the information, of course).
Fakes often refer to “sources close to someone,” or do not indicate where the information came from at all. There is no reason to trust such reports. Google and check: has this information appeared in other sources that are trustworthy? For example, in the feeds of verified news agencies or major reputable news resources.
Step 3: See How It’s Written
Pay attention to the language. Fake accounts often use insults, hate speech, and bad language. These, of course, are not one hundred percent signs of fakes, because under the current circumstances, emotions can run high for everyone. But if there are spelling, punctuation, or stylistic mistakes in the channel’s messages/account, it is unlikely that it should be trusted.
Step 4: Look Closely At Photos And Videos
Of course, the photos may also be fake. As a rule, the fake is given out by distorted details, poor image quality, blurred areas, mismatched proportions, wrong shadows. A classic example is the Associated Press photo from China in 2004. The photographer took a picture of a flood and deliberately raised the water level from his knees to his waist. This is noticeable by the blur near the people.
You can upload the photo to Google Images and see where else the photo was published and in what context. What if it’s an old photo, or it was taken in a completely different location?
And, of course, check if other channels you trust are posting that photo.
An option for advanced users is Fotoforensics. You can check through the pixels to see if the photo has been modified. If any part of it has been edited, it’s out of the picture.
If you have a video you doubt the authenticity of, you can try playing it back in slow motion. Sometimes it helps to detect editing sloppiness. Of course, the video can be not only edited, but also staged and shot in the wrong place or at a different time. Try to check what other sources you trust say about these events. You can try googling information about the video: take a still image and upload it to the same Google Images.
Step 5: Use Verification Tools and Sites
If you’re willing to spend more time verifying questionable information, these sites and tools can help.
Google’s Fact Check Explorer – This tool helps you check the veracity of a post. In the search box, type in the subject or headline of a news story and an analysis of the story will appear. A classic example: at the beginning of the pandemic, there was information that garlic and ginger helped prevent the coronavirus.
Fake news debunker – this plugin can be installed in the Chrome browser. It has a whole collection of tools for checking photos, videos and links.
Some sites publish debunkers and refutations of fake news. You can visit them to keep up with the latest fakes and news analysis. Among the English-language resources are, for example, FactCheck.org, FactChecker from The Washington Post, PolitiFact.com (they even indicate the degree of fake news: half-fake, full, etc.).
And the main rule: if you read or hear the news, the authenticity of which you are not sure – do not repost and retell it to others. Especially if it’s news with screaming and shocking headlines. Read carefully, use your cool head, and double-check everything.