These days there are plenty of complaints about fake news. Some people loudly complain – or even convulse – when publications publish inaccurate, misleading, or pure click-bait headlines. But what makes our collective blood boil is when publications just outright make shit up.
We all want real, tangible and verifiable information; just as we all want misleading and fake news removed from our social media feeds. But we’re struggling as a society with how to best test politicians for the ‘truthiness’ of their claims: Some want cable ‘news’ outlets to run truth tickers across the bottom of the screen as people are speaking to alert viewers of the truth being told – or the falsehoods being peddled.
Blaming the media – Facebook, Twitter and Google – for the flood of fake news, doesn’t really wash. And expecting someone else to give you the “truth” is – IMHO – just another excuse to be lazy.
It’s not up to the media to inform you every time someone is lying. These days, the news business relies on clicks and page views to sell ads, so it’s really up to each of us to be vigilant about what we read and especially what we share on social media.
There are plenty of fact-check websites, but aren’t you curious about who decides what’s real and what’s fake in those instances? I know I am.
So the next time you reach for the share button after merely reading a salacious headline, take a few more seconds.
Here are some tips to avoiding Fake News (which is really no ‘news’ at all):
1) Believe Your Eyes and Ears
If a headline sounds too good to be true, it usually is (once a hard and fast rule, it’s been eroded in recent years).
2) Check the Link
Sometimes the link itself indicates that the site is satire or fake. Check the website itself for other suspicious headlines and stories. Many fake sites and “satire” sites say so at the bottom or top of the page.
3) The First Shall be Last and the Last First
Always make sure to search other reliable – if mistake-prone, as all publications are – news outlets for corroboration. Search engines make this easy, and they even may help save your face! Cause it’s better to be correct and last, then first and wrong – and that rule applies to journalists and tweeters – or Facebookers – alike.
4) Read Those With Whom You Disagree
Just as iron sharpens iron: If you want to be a smart conservative, read smart liberals, and if you want to be a smart liberal, read smart conservatives, as TNS Managing Editor Matt Laslo lectures his classes: Challenge yourself to be smarter – and always keep an open mind, cause you may just agree with your political “opponent.”
5) Check the Batteries in Your Bullshit Detector
Make sure your bullshit detector is turned to 11, because you’re gonna need it. Don’t be (too) cynical, but also don’t be naive. All politicians – from all parties – lie. Rise above the partisan distortion machines by seeking out accurate and respected sources.
6) Common Sense is Queen
Perhaps most importantly, keep your finger off the share button until you check out the claims of the author. We all get too much crap in our inboxes as it is. And nobody likes a crap-peddler.