How to Spot Fake News – For Real

In a recent in-depth study on fake news by Tidio, a customer service bot platform, researchers collected answers from 470 respondents on Reddit to get a clearer picture of the phenomenon. 

They found fake news is pervasive – 87% of respondents said they had encountered disinformation bots on social media. What's worse, most people don't know how to handle it.  

Thankfully, spotting fake news is a learnable skill. Based on their findings, the team also used several methods to spot the fake news when it pops up on your feed. 

First, check the source. Any quote, stat, or fact that cannot be found in a reputable news outlet is likely fabricated. Verification is just a quick Google search away. 

Next, give the post a look over. Does it use a lot of emojis? Are there overly-precise hashtags that push a specific political goal? (for example, #scrapIrandeal) These are telltale signs of a fake news bot. 

If the content is dodgy, it's now time to check the profile to see if it's a bot. Look for the following red flags: a faceless profile photo, a made-up pseudonym instead of a regular name, a low number of followers, and very little personal information.

If still unsure, leverage an online fact-checking tool to get a second read. Websites such as FactCheck.org, Washington Post Fact Checker, PolitiFact, and Snopes are made for this purpose and give the background context to many half-truth memes that spread online. 

Once you're sure it's a fake post, it's time to report it. Reporting on fake news is like picking up litter – a simple form of public service. 

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