Identifying fake news on the Internet

Every other day, there are people sharing pieces of news arising from unconfirmed, dubious sources that do nothing but sensationalise the things written on them.

In a world where anyone can be a content maker with the ability to reach millions in a matter of seconds, it pays to check the source of what you’re sharing so that you don’t look foolish later.

Be aware of some of these strategies that fake news makers use:

1. Intentionally deceptive
These are news stories created entirely to deceive readers. The 2016 US election was rife with examples claiming that “X celebrity has endorsed Donald Trump”, when that was not the case.

You might have seen the following meme. Many people loath Trump, but he didn’t say this:

2. Jokes taken at face value
Humour sites such as the Onion and in Singapore, NewNation present fake news stories in order to satirise the media. They are jokes but sound like actual news. Some readers mistake them for the real thing and share them in a fit of rage.

3. Large-scale hoaxes
Deceptions that are then reported in good faith by reputable news sources. A recent example would be the story that the founder of Corona beer made everyone in his home village a millionaire in his will, or that Microsoft will make

4. Slanted reporting of real facts
Selectively-chosen but truthful elements of a story put together to serve an agenda. One of the most prevalent examples of this is the PR-driven science or nutrition story, such as ‘x thing you thought was unhealthy is actually good for you’.

Take this Independent.Sg article for example: they’ve reported about a fake WhatsApp message going around, but their headline is in themselves fake. They have no confirmation the message originated from grassroots, there were no police reports, they didn’t even say where their source came from.

5. Stories where the ‘truth’ is contentious
On issues where ideologies or opinions clash – for example, territorial conflicts – there is sometimes no established baseline for truth. Reporters may be unconsciously partisan, or perceived as such. Foreign news channels writing about Singapore are guilty of this – they take great pleasure in portraying Singapore as a place where we wear grey coats, have no freedom to do whatever we want and where people are suffering and repressed.

 

 

 

About the author

Benjamin Chiang

Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes also at www.rangosteen.com and occasionally on Yahoo!

The views expressed are his own.

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