Remember last year’s hoax that the new Rs 2,000 note was embedded with a GPS chip? Or that a deadly cyclone had hit the coast of Mumbai last month? With so much news inundated on the internet, it is hard to sift reality from fiction. This has created a fertile ground for false stories and rumours being circulated on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. While you can’t stay away from them, you can certainly learn how to spot fake news. So before you forward another story, read these tips to know whether it is a fact or a fake news.
1. THE HEADLINE LOOKS TOO SPICY
News agencies are neutral and would seldom use biased or provocative headlines. If the title of the news is making a shocking claim, has a titillating subject or has multiple exclamation marks, then be wary of its content.
2. LOOK CLOSELY AT THE URL
Some phoney sites mimic genuine news sites by slightly altering the URL to peddle their fake news. If the URL uses hyphens or has a suspicious domain, then it is fake. For eg – www.bbc-news.com will be a fake portal as will be www.bbc.com.co.
3. QUESTION THE SOURCE
Even if the URL looks authentic, question the source of information. Is it a site that you generally go to for getting your daily news? If not, then read a few more articles on it to see if it is a genuine news site. It is easy to spot an entertainment and sensational website from a genuine news site by sifting through its content.
4. HAVE YOU READ IT ANYWHERE ELSE?
If the information is too shocking or unbelievable, then it would have been picked up by multiple sources. If it is not appearing anywhere else on the internet, then it is definitely fake.
5. THE LAYOUT AND GRAMMAR LOOKS OFF
Fake news sites often have a lot of misspellings and poor use of grammar. Even the formatting and font of the story look awkward. That’s because these pages are not created by professionals and should not be trusted.
6. CHECK THE DATES
Has the story mentioned any dates related to the news or given any timeline of the events? If there is no background information, quotes from reliable sources or a disclosure on where the information was obtained from (like a press conference, news agency etc) then it is most likely made up.
7. IS THE IMAGE DOCTORED?
It is very easy to morph images using photoshop or any other online tools. Use sites like images.google.com, yandex.com or tineye.com to do a reverse image search to find out where else it has been published. The original one would have the largest size and would have been posted at an earlier date. You can also use tools like izitru.com or fotoforensics.com to detect if the image has been edited.
If you come across a fake news, then flag it and report it. Tell your friends about it and inform fact-checking websites to stop it from going viral.