Stay Well-Informed with Facts: How to Spot Fake News

Written by: Princess Alwin See
UTROS in Philippines Inc.

 

With technological advancement, we could acquire and even share information and current news easily, speedily, and conveniently. Mass media now includes not only television, radio, and newspaper but also the so-called, new media. New media involves digital technologies that make use of computers and the Internet which have led to products and services providing information or entertainment. The presence of new media has broadened the reach of news. Nowadays, there are already different online publications, online news outlets, and social media platforms.

With all the well-researched, factual, and trustworthy news circulating across various media platforms, there is the threat of emergence of fake news, stories that seemed accurate and truthful but were absolutely false. In this case, it is a necessary action to pay attention to what information we consume and distribute. Learning how to be well informed with facts and how to spot fake news is important. Be critical and evaluate news properly. Here are some tips to help you tell fact vs fake news:

  1. Examine the publisher’s credibility.
  • The publisher’s site must meet the academic citation standards.
  • The domain name must be original and legitimate.
  • The publisher’s point of view and ‘About’ information must state its details like ownership, leadership, and mission statement.
  • The author must have qualified credentials.
  1. Observe the quality and timeliness.
  • The news must be written properly following grammatical and proofreading standards.
  • The story whether current or old must not be taken out of context.
  1. Check the sources and citations.
  • Credible journalism is fed by fact-gathering.
  • Library databases are a great resource for confirming the credibility of the information.
  • The cited sources must be accurately applied and not altered.
  1. Seek professional help or visit a fact-checking website.
  • A story that is factual will pass the verification process
  • There are many fact-checking websites you can use to validate the accuracy of the news (Nagler, 2017).

Aside from words, photography plays a significant role in telling a story that happens in the world. In relation to the news, it is called photojournalism. Photojournalism has been present since the early 20th century which brings awareness and understanding of the important issues, may it be social, economic or political (Clark, 2019).

In regard to the issue of fake news, it is also necessary to identify whether the photos we see attached to news are real or not. In order to verify and check the photos online, various media organizations in the Philippines have come up with fact-checking projects such as the Vera Files with their VERA Files Fact Check. In one of their articles, they shared how they exposed “fake news”. The article on how to verify photos online described the social media post as one of the deception strategies which is scheming use of photos. Viewers can determine if the images are fake by checking online using reverse image search. “Reverse-searching an image through Google Images or TinEye shows all the pages on the web where that image appears. The idea is simple, but the technology allows online users to inspect, among others, if an image is indeed an accurate representation of an event and is not drawn from an unrelated incident or place. (Soriano, 2018).” The method is effective in identifying whether the photo is real or fake as well as if the story attached to it is factual or not. 

New media provides news organizations and professional journalists useful tools and platforms in creating valuable information for the masses. On the other hand, new media also poses challenges in terms of ethics. As the manipulation of digital photographs became evident and content requires verification processes, the credibility of professional photography is in question (Campbell, et al., 2015). Hence, media practitioners have the responsibility to establish or maintain a good reputation to assure the public that their content is true and accurate. “As it becomes easier to tamper with the evidence of the photograph, all those involved in the process of publishing photographs will personally have to vouch for the content of the image” (Ritchin, 1999, p. 98).  In general, new media has its advantages and disadvantages but the important thing is it needs to be utilized in a proper way to tell a factual story.

The result of misinformation may lead to serious consequences. Thus, we should take fake news issues seriously and combat this problem. Remember to always follow the proper practices when consuming information. Check if it is a reliable source and read wisely before you share or post the news. It is important to keep yourself informed and be aware of what is happening in society. However, it bears a great responsibility for believing factual versus fake news. Let us stay well-informed with factual news and fight against the spread of fake news.

References:

Campbell, David, Hadland, Adrian & Lambert, Paul. (2015). The State of News Photography: The Lives and Livelihoods of Photojournalists in the Digital Age. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. University of Oxford. World Press Photo. Retrieved from https://www.worldpressphoto.org/getmedia/da4e7234-9f18-4036-8320-9397bf70cd89/The-State-of-News-Photography.pdf.

Clark, David. (2019). Lars Boering and Stephen Mayers on the future of photojournalism and WPPh. Retrieved from https://www.canon-europe.com/pro/stories/the-digital-photojournalism-age/.

Nagler, C. (2017). 4 Tips for Spotting a Fake News Story. Harvard Summer School Blog. Harvard Division of Continuing Education. Retrieved from https://blog.dce.harvard.edu/summer/4-tips-for-spotting-a-fake-news-story

Ritchin, Fred. (1999). In our own image: The coming revolution in photography. New York: Aperture Foundation.

Soriano, Jake. (2018). In Doubt? Here’s how to verify photos, videos online. Retrieved from https://verafiles.org/articles/doubt-heres-how-verify-photos-videos-online

Southeastern University Online Learning. What is New Media? Southeastern University. Retrieved from https://online.seu.edu/articles/what-is-new-media/

The article on how to verify photos online: https://verafiles.org/articles/doubt-heres-how-verify-photos-videos-online

Vera Files’ “Fact Check”: http://verafiles.org/specials/fact-check

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