In these dark times, where people have seen themselves relying on social media more than ever, it has become increasingly challenging to distinguish between fake news and reliable information. At the beginning of 2021, a survey showed that over 35% of Generation Z and Millennials admitted ignoring COVID-19 information as they apprehended it to be wrong, which was shared by different people on social media and messengers. And as recorded 24.4% reported the content and 19.3% commented on it.
Is fake news a real problem?
Fake news means false, misleading information camouflaging the authentic one. These days it has become remarkably easy to access the internet worldwide and now, a world without the internet is unfathomable. As per the survey conducted in January 2021, 59.5% of the global population were actively using the internet worldwide.
Using the internet, one can share information both fake and legitimate on a massive scale. But some individuals happen to take advantage of the freedom provided. They tend to use authentic material in the wrong context and fabricate stories by giving the appearance of credible news. People are often tricked into believing imposter news sites as they are astutely designed to look like brands that we are highly aware of.
How to spot fake news?
Verify the source: To obtain reliable news, we need to change our approach to consume information on social media. As we become more aware of the proliferation of fake news, our prime duty becomes to do some digging and check the facts.
Check the web address: Look for spelling errors and odd extensions like .offer, .co.co, rather than .com or .co.in. Try to investigate the publisher, the site’s mission before using the information from a website.
Read outside the headlines: We often tend to choose news that agrees with us and aligns with our values, but what we don’t understand is we are isolating ourselves off from the information that contradicts our assumptions. We, as prudent citizens, must listen to alternative views and thoughts before forming our opinions.
Seek help from the expert: We could ask a librarian or use fact-checking websites such as FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, etc.
During these peculiar times, social media is an influential news source for COVID-19 updates globally. As the hospitals are swamped with coronavirus-infected patients, accessing news on the virus has been at the forefront of many citizens’ minds. People have become much more cautious in trusting news. People are sharing self-verified information, contacts, websites, and organisations to access hospital beds, covid medication, plasma donors, oxygen cylinders and meal deliveries, on a large scale. The responsibility lies with everyone. We must consume news from reputable and credible resources rather than falling victim to fake news.
Survey data taken from https://www.statista.com/