Find our what ‘fake news’ is and how to spot it…
What Is Fake News?
Fake news is any kind of information that’s shared on the internet that’s not true. There are basically two different types of fake news and we’re guessing you’ve probably come across both of them many, many times:
- False Stories and Lies
These are completely made-up stories, articles or images that are being shared online, often created by someone who wants to direct more traffic to their website or social media account.
- Partially True
These are stories that have some truth to them but have been wildly exaggerated, misquoted or are inaccurate because the person who has written them (journalist, blogger etc.) hasn’t properly researched or checked the facts.
Both of these types of fake news are becoming more and more common as people publish these stories to get as many likes or shares as possible.
Where Do You See Fake News?
You can see fake news on pretty much every social media platform. Whether it’s an edited photo of a celebrity or a completely false story about a musician you like on TikTok, you will have come across many posts and images that are fake news.
Some people will even go to the lengths of creating fake websites that look like the real deal. If you ever visit a site and don’t feel 100% comfortable that it’s completely genuine, leave immediately and never share any of your personal details.
Why Is It An Issue?
The problem with fake news is that it spreads deliberate lies about a person, place or situation and makes everyone believe that what they’re reading is true. This can be incredibly damaging to the individual at the centre of the fake news.
It can also spread fear and panic. If a fake news story about a monster living in the sewers of London, accompanied by a Photoshopped image of what looks like a giant alligator starts to go viral and appears to be legitimate, just think how many people will be frightened.
When Is Fake News Not Fake News?
Sometimes people will call a real story ‘fake news’ because they don’t want to believe it’s true. By calling it ‘fake news’, they are looking to discredit it and make others think that it’s made-up nonsense. This is also a problem which makes it more difficult to tell real news from fake news. It can be very confusing.
How To Spot Fake News
To check if a story or post is genuine, see how it measures up against this six-point credibility checklist:
- Does this seem believable, like something that could actually really happen?
- Does the video or image look completely genuine?
- Is the story from a reliable source, such as a local news channel or station?
- Has the story been reported elsewhere online?
- Is the story also on TV or published in newspapers?
- Does the website the story is hosted on seem legitimate?
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these checks, you should do a bit more research of your own. Chances are, if something is wildly far-fetched or seems too-good-to-be-true, it’s fake news.
Coping With Fake News Fears
If fake news is causing you anxiety or panic, try to limit your social media intake and block accounts that often post misleading or scaremongering stories. Talk to an adult about any fears you might have about something you’ve read or seen.
For more help on dealing with anxiety, click here.
For more help on staying safe online, click here.