As per the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), fake news is defined as false information distributed deliberately, usually for political or commercial purposes. Spotting fake news early and putting an end to it is vital to prevent it from going viral and subsequently throwing the readers into qualm.
– Would the publishing site meet academic citation standards? Just because a site is popular among your friends does not mean its content is accurate.
– What is the domain name? Be wary of unusual top-level domain names, like “.com.co.” A second-level domain like “abcnews” may appear credible.
– What’s the publication’s point of view? Read the “About Us” section for more insight into the publisher, leadership, and mission statement. Also, confirm that you have not stumbled upon a satirical news site, like the Onion.
– Who is the author? Has he or she published anything else? Be suspicious if the byline, which names the author, is a celebrity writing for a little-known site or if the author’s contact information is a Gmail address.
– Do you notice spelling errors, capitalised alphabets, or dramatic punctuation? If so, abort your reading mission. Reputable sources have high proofreading and grammatical standards.
– How did you find the article? If the content showed up in your social media feed or was promoted on a website known for clickbait, proceed with caution.
– Credible journalism is fed by fact-gathering, so a lack of research likely means a lack of fact-based information.
– Is the information available on other sites? If not, then it’s very likely that the journalistic jury is still out on whether this information is valid.
– Have you visited a fact-checking website? There are many good ones, like FactCheck.org, International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), PolitiFact.com, or Snopes.com. Do your own detective work and feel more confident in being able to identify fact vs. fiction.