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10 Tips for Identifying Fake News

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COVID-19 is here, and it’s currently the biggest deal. The disease caused by the new coronavirus (SARSCOV-2) has cast a dark shadow over the world, causing panic, infections and death around the globe. The whole world is in fear as there is no known cure for the virus. Consequently, many countries of the world are on lockdown, taking preventive measures as provided by the World Health Organization – WHO.

Also, it seems the accompanying misinformation owing to the pandemic is just as deadly. These falsehoods range from inaccurate facts about cures and the pandemic spreadthose who are infected and others. As a result, fear and panic abound! The situation is indeed dire as we all need our wits about us to get through this. 

So, while health practitioners race to find a cure, fact-checkers are locked in a game of “whack-a-mole”, judiciously dousing the fires of misinformation, purveyors lit. Our strategy also includes partnerships amongst other things; enter tech giants such as Facebook and Google, even Twitter, all lending a hand to stop this infodermic.  

Speaking of Facebook, here are the platform’s ten tips on identifying fake news: 

Be sceptical of headlines 

Firstly, check your headlines; these are the giveaway. Misleading content often has catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are. Social media has made it very easy and comfortable for people to access news contents. With this ease, has come the risk of being played; being exposed to fake news because many people tend to read headlines and leave the body texts. This practice is not efficient as fake news perpetrators now use headlines to lure people to their site, misinform and disinform. (refer to this for better understanding)

Look closely at the link

A phoney or look-alike link may be a warning sign of false news. Many malicious news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the website to compare the link to established sources.

Investigate the source

Scrutinise the byline. Is the author a reliable reference you trust with a reputation for accuracy? If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more. (you might also want to read this)

Watch for unusual formatting

Many false news sites have misspellings or strange layouts. Ensure you read with caution if you see these signs. (see how dubawa debunked this claim)

Consider the photos 

False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the picture may be authentic but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to ascertain its origin.

Inspect the dates 

Additionally, false content may contain timelines that make no sense or altered event dates.

Check the evidence 

Also, check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.

Look at other reports

If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If multiple credible sources corroborate the account, then it’s likely true. 

Is the story a joke? 

Furthermore, sometimes, false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humour or satire. Check whether the source is a parody account; also examine the story’s details as its tone might suggest it to be just for fun.

Some stories are intentionally false 

Think critically about the stories you read, and only share the news that you know to be credible. This rationale holds and is especially pertinent given the disinformative nature of some reports such as this

This article is an edited version written by Facebook, here.

Lateef Sanni is a graduate of mass communication from Lagos state university. Before joining Dubawa, he belonged to the association of campus journalists where he was trained on the basics of fact-checking, a tool for combating misinformation in Nigeria. He joined the Dubawa team as a researcher and content developer for Dubawa's social media platforms. He consistently works to improve the dissemination of fact-checks through pictures [fact cards] and videos.

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