Spotting Misleading News

How to not look like a fool

Kayley Barnett, Report/Writer

With the new age of media comes all kinds of adaptive ways to read up on the daily news: private newsletters, independent journalists, and even other ordinary people within your community. While accessibility is a pleasure to have, the ability for anyone and everyone to create media with limited checks is worrying for the general public.

Most of the time, the spread of falsehoods is not on purpose or with malicious intent. Say, for example, one person sees an article they take as fact and then tells their friend about it. Then, the friend tells their friends, and just like that, a potentially dangerous domino effect has begun. The general public can be contaminated with just a retweet or post.

This raises the ultimate question: how do you avoid misleading information?
Firstly, always double-check “facts” you stumble upon. It can be tedious and a bit difficult to do sometimes, but ensuring the information you are observing is correct plays a big part in being a well-informed individual, even if said information goes against your agenda. Allowing yourself to have this warped perception of reality creates a false “security blanket” of some sort — you ingest media that caters to you instead of being open to data that may challenge your views.

Admittedly, “double-checking” sounds hard. And, at first, it will be. But there are hundreds of checkers out there where popular e-rumors and falsehoods are registered via multiple people all along the political spectrum to ensure your news is void of lies. PolitiFact [] boasts a diverse team of researchers who specialize in finding the truth using an easy-to-read scale, called the

Truth-O-Meter, to quickly and effectively portray the line between fact or fiction.
While double-checking is a surefire way to find out the full scoop, you may not have time to research every bit of information you stumble upon. However, you can always check a variety of factors, with the acronym F.A.C.T.S.:

Facade: What are the website’s first impressions? Do you recognize the publisher and, if so, is the publisher credible?

Author: Who wrote the article? What is their motive? Are they trying to inform, or are they trying to get a reaction out of you?

Citations: Does the author include sources for their claims, such as hyperlinks to videos or citings of official documents?

Title: Does the headline invoke emotion with loaded words? Does it seem manipulative in the sense that it is meant to turn heads or provoke readers?

Search: If all else fails or you’re not completely sure if the source is credible, always do a quick search for other sources also covering the subject. Sometimes it may be impossible to find another source for several reasons: it is relatively new information, the story is entirely fake, or the information has already been proven false.

If you live in the twenty-first century, you probably have at least an hour or so on the Internet during your daily routine. Because of that, remembering FACTS over everything ensures a well-informed understanding of the situation at hand after seeing media you stumble upon during your everyday Facebook scroll or Snapchat browse.

With all this in mind, avoiding sketchy reports is a walk in the park. Teamed up, double-checks, and FACTS can improve anybody’s day-to-day media intake — and may even offer peace of mind knowing you understand the full story.