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7 Ways of Spotting False News on Social Media

False news caused being on top with information in these trying times can be crucial and a distinctive advantage especially, when it comes to being safe.

After all your wellbeing should be of paramount importance. Nothing and we mean nothing should compromise that. That’s not all! Obviously, you’d want your loved ones heading in the right direction when there’s a zombie apocalypse out there.

Well, it’s not really the case at the moment but we are pretty darn close to an epidemic of that nature. So, what happens when you’re flooded with fresh advice – whether by WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (in dire situations) you might actually pack your bags and hail the first cab that comes your way but before all that you might want to confirm the authenticity of the articles first no matter who sends it because it could be a false news.


It’s best to verify your content first

There are plenty of news verification tools such as Snapbird, Topsy and Poynter out there to name a few, that’ll delve out the authenticity of the information sent across but before you could just try out the age-old method. ‘Stop & Think’ Yup, you heard me, just and think whether what you’ve read could probably pan out or be true? Secondly, try verifying the source. It’s a big red flag if the source is a ‘friend of a friend’ or my ‘mum’s colleagues’ neighbour’. Generally, reliable websites tend to refrain from sharing unverified news and articles.


But its partially true, so the rest could be true as well

Certain articles, on the other, hand carrying both accurate and false information for example encouraging thorough personal hygiene habits, refraining from consumption of alcohol and cigarettes would definitely slow the spread of the virus and increase the immune system however, other unresearched details claiming to diagnose and cure the disease were potentially detrimental. You should always follow a reliable source such as the World Health Organization, NHZ, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and respective government medical authorities for information pertaining to public health.

The Sri Lankan government is on a mission to minimize the spread of false news through social media and thus far have been quite effective in locating several suspects within the island. The Police spokesperson, DIG Ajith Rohana informs a mainstream media channel, in an interview that the country’s Police force along with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) are on a prowl to apprehend these individuals.

“We have arrested a suspect who had published false information pertaining to the number of deaths related to the Coronavirus in Sri Lanka on his facebook account” Quotes Rohana. He also mentioned that the suspect had been produced to the Magistrates Court of Sri Lanka and that he’d be remanded till the 01st of April. The actions taken to prevent the spread of misinformation has actually been applauded by society and other international organizations.


How authentic is it?

It is possible to impersonate official accounts such as BBC News and CNN News to perceive trustworthy. Readers must always be aware of suspicious screenshots, video links and unwanted capital lettering etc. Most often than not these hoax articles tend to ignore the minute details.


Not sure whether it’s true? Then don’t share

There are instances where you’d probably receive something claiming to be considered ‘Breaking News’ but if you’re not sure don’t forward it. After all you would want to be identified as the child who cried wolf.


Voice notes and recordings need to be verified too

It can’t be fake if a doctor says it right? Wrong! Anything that comes through a social media network without proper validation needs to verified first.


Beware emotional posts or false news

Ever heard of the phrase emotion has influence? Most of us have a knack for reacting to emotional content. It just simply gets us going and subsequently it just goes viral. Bang!

“Fear is one of the biggest drivers that allows misinformation to thrive,” says Claire Wardle of First Draft, an organisation that helps journalists tackle online misinformation.

This type of content is designed to crank up anxiety and as a result end up receiving some form of call to action. Think about it who doesn’t want their loved ones to be safe and sound during a crisis?


Think about the biases

Do you agree on something because it’s true or because it goes with your values and beliefs? Most of us are guilty of the latter at some point or the other. It’s who we are.

We generally tend to give preference to something that is more in line with what we believe but don’t just share something just because we agree with it. Think about it for a tad, slow down and run it through a verification tool and see if what’s shared is actually authentic.

Pseudo or false news has been a major issue for social media platforms and as a result, the credibility of these sites have also been compromised to an extent that has left not only the readers baffled and misinformed but also caused unnecessary concerns for respective governments and relevant organizations. It’s therefore best to ensure that you receive and share something that’s actually credible. After all good news can mean a world of difference.

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