By Casandra Stolz
The ease in accessibility of information has skyrocketed as our phones, watches, televisions, and vehicles are all equipped with internet access. Even gas stations now have small monitors to deliver “words of the day” and worldly happenings. With this major convenience comes great responsibility. We are all responsible to identify falsified news stories on our feeds. Disregard the story or do a personal factcheck. Counterfeit stories on the internet are so popular because people believe them and pass the digital virus along to the next deceived person.
The term “fake news” has been around for about 125 years-the time news reporting has become an industry. For the last few years, the term has been brought to attention by millions. The Oxford dictionary describes the term as “False reports of events, written and read on websites.” Fabricating stories online creates widely shared stories, generating revenue through web traffic. It also serves as a purpose to discredit a public figure, political movement, and radicalize important facts every American should know the truth about. An article published by The Atlantic last year claimed falsified news is not just about making people believe illegitimate facts. It is also making them less likely to consume or accept information. Due to the increase of “made-up news,” more people are turning away from staying informed rather than wading through the bogus to find the authentic articles. Identifying false news articles is actually pretty simple if you know what you’re looking for.
The best way to recognize illegitimate news is doing a visual assessment. Most times, the online platforms look amateurish and bombard viewers with annoying pop up ads. Ads can also be on the side of the page. Perhaps don’t take the information for face value if you don’t know the news outlet. Respected and verified outlets are The Wall Street Journal and CNN. Of course, there are smaller outlets who produce great news, but use common sense when identifying the source of the story. Another tip is
to check the web domain. Often times the URLs will try to mimic those of viability, but they may end with “. com.co” or “. lo.” For important facts, you should stick to sites that end in “.gov” or “.edu” because they are verified sites with reputable, usually unbiased information. Always assess the grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Mistakes do happen, but very rarely do accredited stories make it to the public with any errors. So, if there is an over exaggeration of punctuation and misspelled words, you should probably stop reading. If all else fails, there are widely trusted fact checking sites to utilize. Reliable fact checking sites include websites such as FactCheck.org and an important one for the next two months, PolitiFact.com. Everyone has the right to the truth. Unfortunately, it’s not a privilege. The ability to identify the truth and to pass it along while not contributing to or sharing false news, is becoming a very important skill. Everyone gets information from the internet, so take a few minutes to educate yourself on how to identify false news. Nobody wants to be that person spewing untrue facts because they “saw it on the internet.”a few minutes to educate yourself on how to identify false news. Nobody wants to be that person spewing untrue facts because they “saw it on the internet”.