Have you ever accidentally shared information that turned out not to be true? Sometimes false information can seem believable and realistic, so it can be hard to tell if something is true or not. Let’s take a look at what false information is, and share some tips to help keep you safe!
There are many reasons why people might share false information: they might have been tricked into believing the falsehood, they might want to cause confusion, or want to get attention for themselves.
There are many ways you can spot false information: look at the source of the article, check for facts in the article, use multiple sources of information, and use your own judgment as well.
What Are The Different Types Of False News?
1. Clickbait – eye-catching but misleading headlines designed to get people to click on links to make money or garner views for a website. This one is commonly used on social media platforms like YouTube to lure you into clicking and watching a video.
2. Satire – made-up stories that are not meant to be taken seriously. These are usually written to joke about the news or famous people.
3. Propaganda – false facts which are written to promote a political agenda or a set of ideas.
4. Mistakes – sometimes accidents can happen, but a trusted source will always correct errors in their stories and say when they’ve made errors.
Tips For Spotting Misinformation
1. Check the source of information. Is it a trusted and credible source?
Whether the information was shared on Facebook, Twitter, or another source, click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission, and its contact information. You should ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the report appear on a trustworthy site?
- What does the URL look like?
- What other articles have they published?
2. Check if the information is relevant and timely. If not, then it might be false.
Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks, so take a moment to check the date and try to get some context for the information. Reposting old news stories doesn’t mean they’re relevant to current events. Take a closer look at the message and ask yourself the following questions:
- Why was this message written?
- Are they trying to influence me?
- Are they trying to sell me something?
- Am I being sent to another website?
- Have other news portals reported about it?
3. Check the author’s credibility by looking at their profile and past tweets or posts.
Do a quick search about the author to identify their credentials and experience. Consider whether the writer is qualified to offer an opinion on the topic in question. Check if the writer has been identified along with contact information such as an email address or, at the very least, a link to his or her social media profiles. Here are some questions to consider:
- Is the writer they credible?
- Are they real?
- Is the writer affiliated with a credible news organization or academic institution?
- Are there any references to the writer elsewhere online?
4. Question why the context exists
Suppose an author or organization is known to represent a particular point of view. In that case, the facts and arguments presented may have been cherry-picked to support that viewpoint.
If you’re unsure whether a source could be considered objective, check the domain name and the “About Us” page to determine whether the person or organization advocates for a particular cause or accepts sponsorship. Other signs of bias include harsh language, arguments that appeal to emotions rather than logic, presenting a limited point of view, oversimplifying things, or omitting facts.
Using the internet comes calls for us all to be vigilant and play our part in being responsible digital citizens by not fuelling misinformation online. This means that rather than sharing or engaging with false information, we should report it. At Digify Africa, we are committed to reducing the spread of false information online by using our innovative WhatsApp learning bot, Kitso, which equips parents and teachers with internet safety skills.
Start your internet safety journey by saying Hi to Kitso today!
Packed with interactive quizzes, engaging graphics, and audio content, Kitso will captivate you throughout your journey, as you learn:
- Introduction To Your Online Presence
- Protecting Your Privacy
- Navigating False Information
- Building Your Online Community
- Digital Tools For The Classroom
- Using Digital Tools To Make A Difference
Just say hi to Kitso, our free Internet safety skills WhatsApp learning bot that will aid you with valuable Internet safety skills for your future!