Fake news. What is it and how to spot it?

Ralitsa Siderova from “Hristo Botev” Foreign Language High School in Kardzhali draws our attention to one of the most important issues nowadays – fake news. Read her story about what fake news is and how we could deal with it.

 

You read a headline with big red letters and it is something scandalous. Sometimes the title is all you read and you are already shocked. You click on the like button, share it on Facebook or another social media platform and keep scrolling. Until the next story, which is again something unusual. Then you tell it to some of your friends and they to others. Admit it. We have all done it. We don’t really put much thought into it, but this is how the news is spread all over internet and not only. But here is the shock. Most of these scandalous stories aren’t even true. They are the so called “fake news”.

 

What is fake news?

 

“I think fake news is just written by people who want to get attention by writing absolute nonsense. And the readers or listeners believe them just because they don’t want to come across the true and not that interesting side of reality”, says Stefka Ivanova, a student in 9th grade at the “Hristo Botev” Language High School.

 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary fake news is “false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”.

 

Fake news is nothing new, it has been a problem in recent years. But nowadays it is one of the greatest threats and the main reason for that is that we’re so influenced by social media that we believe in almost everything we read or hear. These untrue stories are disseminated not in days, but in seconds. They can be stories, which aren’t in 100% true or stories that aren’t true at all.

 

Types of fake news

 

However there are in fact different types of fake news we need to be aware of.

  • Clickbait: Headlines, which are exaggerated only to grab attention.
  • Propaganda: Sources, that come from a particular point of view, different opinion and distorted as facts.
  • Satire/ Parody: Articles published for entertainment and parody.
  • Bad journalism: Articles from journalists or other people, who distort information and change main details about some stories. Or use information, which doesn’t have verified sources – like gossips or rumours.

 

How to recognize the real news?

 

“We don’t fall for false news just because we are dumb. But I have found myself not paying much attention to the news and the main message. I just feel like I don’t have the time to read anything but headlines. We want only the easy and simple answers, because in social media we are used to be lazy ”, affirms Mrs. Dimitrova, a history teacher at “Hristo Botev” Language High School.

 

But it is not difficult at all to recognize the truth among all the nonsense and not be fooled by social media. According to data analysis from SHIFT Communications 97% of fake news is shared on Facebook. Although since December 2016 Facebook has hired a team who is responsible for combating fake news on their site, we can’t be completely sure about the things we read there.

 

Here are several tricks which for sure can help you discern the truth from all the lies in internet.

  • Be more critical: The main reason fake news is such a big problem is that people often believe in everything 100%.
  • Check the sources: Is the author citing their sources? It is important that the article shares where the information comes from otherwise you should consider everything written carefully.
  • Cross-check the piece with other sources: If the article is the only one sharing that particular information it is probably not true. If you read something, which in your opinion isn’t 100% accurate then it is better to check it with other articles by trusted organizations like the BBC or others.
  • Verify images: If the image trailed in the article seems to be photoshopped or not right for the specific information then the piece might be also false.

 

“It would be a good idea to have classes related to media education, where we can talk about issues not only related to fake news, but also to main problems in the internet. For example copyright or media literacy”, suggests Nikolai Hristov, a student in 12th grade.

 

This is certainly something that would be of great importance if it actually happens. For now we could try to be well- informed and aware of what is happening around the world nowadays. Using only our “intuition” isn’t a sure way to recognize fake news. Using some of the methods mentioned above can help you a lot. Fake news can badly damage our trust in the media. But it can easily be recognized from the rest with these simple strategies. And with the time you will be able to identify false information in seconds.