These days, it's impossible to not hear about fake news unless you live under a media-free rock. These made-up stories are not new, however, and they have been around for decades, with tabloids leading the pack before the Internet and social media wave exploded.
Social media and millions of Internet sources have made fake news a challenging problem to deal with. Thousands of people share a Facebook news story without verifying the source or the content. Trending hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites sensationalize stories that have false premises or simply are not true in any way. So how do you be careful so that your business shares quality information and not fake news?
Does the website look like the page of a reputable news agency? First, look at the website url (www.thedomain.com). Look at the About, Staff and Contact pages and see whether they pass the "sniff test". If you have a masthead that's filled with stock photographs, identical bios, lots of ads for suspect information and names that sound made up, chances are you're on a site that's masquerading as a news publication.
Do you see many spelling or grammar errors? Are the sources cited not available? Does the information seem outlandish or unbelievable?
Some fake news websites create author bylines of people that don't exist. You can see whether the author created any other pieces by searching for their name online.
This website has long dedicated itself to debunking urban legends, and they're doing the same thing with fake news websites. You can see whether a website is known for publishing fake news, as well as the legitimacy of their claims.
If you think a news story is fake, Google any statistics or research studies in the piece. If you can't track down this information, chances are the site made it up to support news that isn't real.
One of the most well-known satire news sites is TheOnion.com, but even its fame doesn't stop people from thinking it's actual news. Many humor sites will include a tagline or an explanation that the news on the site isn't real, so take a look at the company page if you have doubts.
FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com are two handy resources for finding the facts about a situation. You can check info on these pages without sorting through a lot of search results.
Fake news is a major problem in the social media age. Use this list to determine whether you're reading and getting ready to share a real story or something someone made up to get advertising dollars. Sharing other people’s content is an important aspect of business social media sharing, it’s simply important to know your sources to maintain your company credibility!
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