In the best of all possible worlds, we wouldn't have to deal with fake news at all, and all the information we consumed would be legitimate. But unfortunately, fake news is everywhere, and thus each of us needs to be the ultimate fact checker for the information we consume.
Keep these tips in mind when consuming information. They can help you spot fake news stories.
- READ THE STORY BEFORE YOU SHARE IT--Many people never read the fake news stories they share on social media; they simply see a sensationalistic headline and share it. Being a responsible consumer of information means reading, and verifying the accuracy of, the story before sharing it to your social media network.
- CHECK YOUR BIAS--Just because you want something to be true, doesn't mean it's true. Don't accept something on face value simply because it agrees with your preexisting views, and don't reject something just because it disagrees with them.
- CHECK THE LANGUAGE USED BY THE AUTHOR--Fake news stories are designed to get a rise out of their readers, and they often accomplish this by using loaded language that may be inflammatory, manipulative, melodramatic, provocative, or absolute, favoring one side over the other.
- IS THE STORY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, OR TOO ABSURD TO BE BELIEVED?--If either one is the case, it's very possible the story is fake. However, don't automatically rule such a story out, because it could also be legitimate; be wary.
- BE AWARE OF MANIPULATION--even if you don't have time to fact check every story you come across, simply recognizing the existence of fake news, and knowing that it is designed to manipulate its readers, can help you avoid its effects. A healthy level of skepticism is your best defense against fake news.