In an era of social media as well as COVID-19, fake news is as destructive as ever. According to Loyola Marymount University, fake news can be described as false information as well as a variety of other factors:
- Information that’s partially true
- Information that’s true but placed in the wrong context
- Fake news sites
- Manipulated content including images
- Parody content
Fake news can be so damaging because it preys on biases and fears of the public. It also makes it easier for an audience to disregard news that’s actually real. In a public health crisis, it is important for each brand and each citizen to ensure they do not incite panic and misinformation. There are a few ways to verify news in order to reduce the likelihood of sharing or acting on fake news.
Think critically when engaging with content.
Fake news is designed to be believable, and it can easily take you in. Assess the content critically for inconsistencies, and ask yourself what viewpoint the story wants you to agree with or buy into. Do other facts you know to be true support it?
Do your due diligence.
When you encounter a piece of content, look at who created it and where it was initially published as much as possible. Often, the context of these facts alone will tell you a lot. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper into who the source is. Look out for spelling errors in urls and within the content; these are often a giveaway.
See who else is reporting the same news
If the government really announced a new regulation, is it likely that only one news source would cover the story? Check against various sources and always consult the experts. For example, a popular Whatsapp video about COVID-19 cures is unlikely to flag information the World Health Organisation doesn’t know. Following this rule will drastically reduce potentially harmful speculation.
Examine the evidence
A piece of information should contain named sources. Tread lightly when a source is “anonymous” or unnamed. Additionally, examine the photos and videos accompanying the information. Nowadays, it\’s easy to doctor photos and videos. Look out for inconsistencies such as strange shadows, wavy lines and colour inconsistencies.
Use your common sense
Ask yourself if the information “sounds right”. Always think before you share and remember that you could be causing damage otherwise.
Stephanie Taderera is a Content Executive at Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants.