TechKNOW Tomorrow – How to Spot Fake News

Image by Connor Danylenko via Pexels.

COVID-19 is officially a pandemic. The “fake news” that’s already been circulating about it has been dubbed an infodemic.

You’ve likely heard the phrase “fake news” multiple times if you’ve ever heard Donald Trump spew random sentences vehemently. But what is it exactly? As defined by the New York Times, “fake news” is any false article that’s “deliberately fabricated to deceive readers, generally with the goal of profiting through clickbait. Clickbait is content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page” (2016).

To add, these fake articles tend to be disseminated, swiftly circulating across social media platforms like wildfires with their eye-catching headlines and oddly punctuated messages. People see these articles and are encouraged to share them without even analyzing the message or the sources behind the message.

Okay, so how do we determine if a source is “fake news” or actually true, then? tKt’s advice is to follow this chart explicitly.

Image by IFLA via Wikimedia Commons.

If the source of an article is your online friend or a politician’s tweet, then you should definitely question the source immediately. If you can identify several spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, or text in ALL CAPS, then the article in question is likely clickbait. Additionally, it may help to follow the guidelines in this article if you’re uncertain about a story’s source.

Sometimes an article might look like it’s from a legit source, but it’s not at all. After all, if a scamming website can be set up to look like your bank’s secure site, who’s to say that “fake news” can’t masquerade as a legitimate news source such as CBC or The Globe and Mail? Remember to analyze everything with scrutiny and follow your gut if something doesn’t feel right.

As an example, where should you go for legitimate news on updates to the COVID-19 pandemic? Trusted sources like CBC and The Globe and Mail would be great places to start, as would official government channels like Health and Community Services NL and gov.nl. This way, you can avoid similar-looking websites that are out to deceive you and suspicious links that friends might send to you.

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Luckily, techKNOWtutors doesn’t spread fake news; we just share internet and technology facts. Although most services have closed, techKNOWtutors remains open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with connecting to loved ones or even setting up an account with a service like Skype, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message!

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

Break the Fake in 2019!

Media literacy week runs from October 7th – 11th, 2019 and this years theme is “Break the Fake“.

With “fake news” becoming more and more prevalent it is important for all internet users to learn how to spot misleading or false news stories.

The above video by MediaSmarts give many suggestions for how to spot a fake news story, and fact check suspected fake news stories.

Media Literacy Week is an annual national campaign hosted by MediaSmarts and the Canadian Teachers Federation to promote digital and media literacy, with activities and events taking place in classrooms, libraries, museums and community groups from coast to coast to coast.

For a full list of events in your community during digital literacy week check the listings on the MediaSmarts website.