CAN YOU SPOT FAKE NEWS?

With all the talk about fake news on­line, it can be hard to work out what’s ac­tu­ally real news. Here’s a crash course on how to tell fact from fic­tion

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents - SITI ROHANI

Take a crash course on how to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween real and fake news.

Fake news is e very­where – you se e it on your so cial me­dia feeds and gr oup chats. There’s al­ways some­one shar­ing un­ver­i­fied news on child kid­nap­pings, sto­ries of po­lit­i­cal un­rest and the lat­est can­cer scares from of­ten du­bi­ous sources. It was even named 2017’s word of the year by Collins Dic­tio­nary, which de­scribes fake news

as “false, of­ten sen­sa­tional, in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­nated under the guise of news re­port­ing”.

To thwart its spread, Malaysia passed the Anti-Fake News Bill in April this year, which car­ries se­vere pun­ish­ments of up to six years in jail and a max­i­mum fine of RM500,000 (A$165,000).

Be­ing able to spot fake news is a cru­cial part of dig­i­tal lit­er­acy and an im­por­tant as­pect of life in the dig­i­tal age. Here’s a crash course:

1Check the web­site and qual­ity of the ar­ti­cles

Look at where the story comes from and read other ar­ti­cles on the site – are they well writ­ten us­ing cor­rect ci­ta­tions or are they rid­dled with gram­mat­i­cal er­rors?

You should also make sure that you’re on a le­git­i­mate news site. Some fake sites use ad­dresses and even lo­gos that are sim­i­lar to those of real news or­gan­isat ions. For ex­am­ple, abc­news.go.com is real, while abc­news.com.co is not.

2Is it the whole truth and noth­ing but the truth?

Some­times a fake news story can have a sliver of truth to it, but most of the facts and fig­ures are made up.

For ex­am­ple, the event and the peo­ple men­tioned may be real, but the quotes at­trib­uted to them and other facts are sim­ply made up.

To make sure the re­port isn’t fic­tion, search for the same story on sev­eral cred­i­ble web­sites to en­sure noth­ing has been mis­rep­re­sented.

3Do a Google Re­verse Im­age Search

Up­load (drag and drop) a photo to im­ages.google.com to ver­ify where else the im­age has been used and for what pur­poses. That will help you de­cide if a photograph has been doc­tored or is be­ing falsely pre­sented.

4Do some in­de­pen­dent re­search

Check the quest ion­able piece of news against other news sources or fact-check­ing web­sites. If the news is about a lo­cal kid­nap­ping for ex­am­ple, it would be odd if the story wasn’t cov­ered in your lo­cal news­pa­pers.

If it’s not lo­cal, check against other news sources or fact-check­ing web­sites such as Snopes.com, Poli­tiFact. com and Fac­tCheck.org – all sources that help de­bunk fake news, ru­mours and ur­ban le­gends.

5 Make sure it’s not satire

If the story is on a satir­i­cal web­site, you should be aware that the in­tent is hu­mour, not to mis­lead. These web­sites pub­lish par­o­dies of news - satir­i­cal news sto­ries to make you laugh. So if you’re think­ing a story is a bit far­fetched, check that you’re not read­ing a satir­i­cal site like The Onion, or The Borowitz Re­port in The New Yorker.

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