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How to Spot & Prevent Fake News During Elections

September 16, 2019

During elections, media platforms around the world undoubtedly become hot zones for news on the topic.

The media is packed with propaganda, campaigns, polling and inevitably, slander which naturally catches the public’s attention.

Clients often ask us: How do you spot fake news? 

Normally, fake news is wrapped around true facts and stories in order to make it seem accurate.

For example, the writer will post a couple of true stories followed by a piece of fake news.

This sequence of posting will make the false information appear true and reliable and therefore will go unnoticed. However, there are still ways to flag these disguised posts. 

What to Look For?

First, do you know the website or the source you’re reading?

Do you know the sender? 

Second, study the wording and style of the message or post; does it provide general information or is it formulated to provoke a reaction?

If it provokes a reaction, cross-check the information with sources you know and trust. 

Third, as opposed to professional journalists, fake news tends to be accompanied by juicy headlines, also known as clickbait.

These might be written all in CAPS and have many exclamation marks. This can signify that the post was written by  someone who is not a professional journalist, or configured by an automated bot.

Even spelling or grammar mistakes may suggest the story you’re reading is indeed fake news. 

How About on Social Media?  

Today, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like are main sources of news. And fake news distributors love these platforms as they use you – the end user – as their sub-distributors.

For someone looking to distribute fake news, all they must do is create a fake account, configure automated posts with false information and rely on people on social media to spread the news.

These fake accounts are normally bots configured to act in a socially normal way. 

What Can You Do?

Always check the account behind the original post.

Is he or she your friend or do you have any mutual friends?

Do they post at a high frequency?

Perhaps even send a message to the account to see if they reply in a human manner or in an automated manner.

Don’t just read the headlines and share the story.

Make sure you read the article or post through until the end, rather than simply skimming the headlines that pop up on your Facebook News Feed.

Along the way, keep an eye out for the aforementioned telltale signs of the story being unreliable. 

The War Against Fake News 

There are many tools being developed to fight the war against fake news. Among them is an Israeli platform that detects and exposes fraudulent profiles and slanderous campaigns of all sorts on social media. 

In the meantime, you can take part in preventing the spread of fake news by simply not sharing, reposting or forwarding content that encompasses warning signs. By not sharing such content,  you will be cutting off part of the distribution chain. 

Fake news is a popular method used to slander one’s image for another’s gain not only in politics; it can happen to anyone or any company. 

If you have encountered false information being published about you, contact us!