How to spot fake news

Posted by Nikki Howard

Chatterbox PR has noted a huge increase in the number of fake news stories globally in recent years.
Many people associate fake news with politics and the words have become synonymous with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
But misinformation and fake news can harm a business or organisation too.

Trust is an enormously valued commodity so invented reviews of products or inaccurate financial updates, can do serious reputation damage.

Here, Chatterbox PR gives a few pointers on how to spot dodgy journalism and prevent you and your business becoming a victim of fake news.

What is fake news?
Fake news, also known as junk news, yellow news and pseudo news has been around forever.
From Rameses the Great in ancient Egypt to the Great Moon Hoax of 1835 and Joseph Goebbels propaganda machine in the WWII, fake news has always been present.
However, with the advent of the internet, humans’ access and exposure to information has sky rocketed.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow anyone to publish anything.
And often these stories are shared, or even go viral, without any of the facts being confirmed.
A recent Kiwi victim was TVNZ’s Daniel Faitaua who was used, without his knowing, to promote a phoney Bitcoin investment scheme.
Other examples of fake news include construction companies who receive damning reviews about the quality of their work or a restaurant owner receiving a 1-star rating for their food, all of which are completely fabricated.

How to spot fake news tip 1 – Consider the source
If you click on a post, article or website and it has lots of annoying adverts and looks a little off, then it probably is.
Take a look at the search bar at the top of the screen.
If the web domain or URL ends in .co, .infonet or .offer rather than .com or .co.nz, then chances are you are looking at a fake website.
Do you recognise the author’s name?
If not, Google the author to check their credentials.

Trusted online sources like Snopes can help you verify sources.

How to spot fake news tip 2 – Read beyond the headline
Unreliable sites will often use misleading headlines to lure in readers.
This method is more commonly known as clickbait. A lot of mainstream media use clickbait, too.
Once you have clicked the content of the post is often very different.
Clickbait stories are often used by companies trying increase traffic to their website and in turn gain more exposure of their product.
There also several sub-genres of clickbait including shockbait, thinkbait and scarebait, all of which use tactics to get you to click.

How to spot fake news tip 3 – Are there lots of spelling and grammar mistakes?
If the article or post is badly written, with little or no punctuation, then odds are it’s produced by third party writer who are very often writing in English as a second language.
Are the apostrophes in the right place?
Most credible news sources have editors that will check for grammatical errors before publication and will also have rules restricting writers from using features like caps lock and exclamation marks!
At Chatterbox PR, the boss restricts us with a monthly quota for exclamation marks.

How to spot fake news tip 4 – Check the date

Check the original date of the post or story. Online content can be reposted and re-hashed over and over. If the content was written a while ago, the facts may be no longer relevant or even incorrect.

How to spot fake news tip 5 – Is it supposed to be comedy?
Finally, we all need a giggle every now and then and some websites create fake news purely for humour.
Worldnewsdailyreport.com has a disclaimer that states, "World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website—even those based on real people—are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle."

If you have been affected by fake news or would like any further information, please contact Chatterbox PR here or give us a call +64275708971.