How Do You Spot Fake News?

fake news
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Recently, Hilary Topper, President & CEO of HJMT PR, gave a presentation on Fake News to a small library in the midwest. Their question to me was how do you spot fake news?

But, in reality, in order to spot fake news, you need to understand that fake news has been with us since the beginning of time.

Let’s take a look at history:

  • 13th Century BC – Ramsees the Great lied about the Battle of Kadesh and said it was a true victory when indeed it was just a stalemate.
  • In 1475, a fake news story spread through Kent claimed that a Jewish community killed a 2-year-old Christian infant. In response, all the Jewish people were rounded up and tortured. Many were killed on the spot. The Pope at the time tried to stop the lies but it was too late.
  • The 1930s had one of the greatest liars of all time, Hitler. He wanted a pure country and turned the nation against the Jewish people along with others who were not pure German. According to the Washington Post, 11 million people were killed because of the propaganda and lies spread about the Jews.
  • And the list goes on!

So How Does Fake News Happen?

For starters, people lie to get what they want. They persuade other people that what they are saying is true. Many times, you will see misleading ads saying that a product is the best on the market. Isn’t that propaganda since there is no proof given?

Sometimes reporters write stories where they only use a piece of what someone says and take it out of context. This generates more fake news.

What Can You Do About It?

Here are some tips, offered by Imei Hsu in Branding in a Digital World:

  • Accept that fake news exists
  • Always fact check everything
  • Read only reputable sources
  • Don’t share news that you haven’t checked out to make sure it’s real

If you have other ideas about how not to spread fake news, share below in the comment section.