Fake news, is it easy to spot?

Fake news is stealing lots of headlines. Propaganda, hoaxes, disinformation and plain old lies are being reported as real news, often via social media. The question is: how can we tell the difference between a real story and a fake? Can we trust our common sense or are there reliable techniques to help us separate real from fake news?

How are you protecting yourself?

Posted by Sharon Gaskell on 7th Mar 2017
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Comments (9)

David Vaughan Bowen

04 August 2018

Yes, this is an old problem (as old as propaganda and older) but there is perhaps more impact from the focus, impact and sheer volume of items available via social media, the internet and searches. I do think that search engines and social media platforms have more responsibility than they have accepted. They should be seen (and regulated) as publishers, and should be responsible for their content and the results of their searches and their content-focusing. But perhaps the incivility of much of the discourse in the cloud is an even more serious problem than the fake news?

David Sturt

11 July 2018

It depends on your definition of fake news. Whilst some can be quickly and easily verified as fake, others are quite subtle for example:

(a) Where a few elements are used but most of the content is based on fact or clearly stated as opinion. (b) Where all the elements of the article are verifiably true, but they are out of context, for example the reporter cherry picks the facts to illustrate their point.
(c) A subtly photoshopped picture, which unless you have the original can be difficult to spot.

Protection comes from thinking critically before accepting news, use a variety of reliable sources, e.g. those that apologize for mistakes and correct them, and digger deeper when in doubt. Lastly, callout fake news when you see it.

Gary Spokes

11 March 2018

Fake news is easy to spot. It jars against your views. The real danger is that you're drawn towards what you're passionate about. Once this has been noted by the purveyors of fake news they can then tailor more stories you'll engage with. Propoganda on steroids. Never has the chance existed to coerce people to one political party, eg. only send news on health service to one person and fail to mention anything on foreign policy.

Rossella Meloni

28 October 2017

well for a start one needs to define what are "real news" and what are "fake news". What exactly is a "real story"? Can a story really be told factually?

Olivia Tan

10 April 2017

Google recently added a 'fact check' feature - "Google's Fact Check label is added to news stories that appear on its News pages as well as in its general search results. When a search result has been fact checked by one of a number of organisations the firm has partnered with, it will display a snippet of text saying so." I haven't seen this in action yet but would be interested to hear your thoughts on this. read full article here

Scott Milne

23 March 2017

I think there is a lot of room for sites which investigate popular news stories through open source information analysis. By collating and cross-correlating several media streams, such as regular news sites and social media, places like Bellingcat (https://www.bellingcat.com/) do a great job of getting under the skin of news stories and current affairs.

Olivia Tan

10 March 2017

How are you protecting yourself? So I have older relatives who don't know what 'photoshopping' is, or how easy it is to do...they are used to being presented with 'true' news and so have developed a sense of trust around information presented to them in a news-y manner. On the flip side, studies such as Ofcom’s 2016 report "Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes" show that young people need to exercise more analytical skills when viewing information presented to them online. So for me, it's not only what I'm doing to protect myself, but what can we do to help protect others who may be more vulnerable?

John Albert Mitchell

09 March 2017

The use of AI, such as IBM's Watson, to conduct fast data mining, should enable it to ascertain the source(s) of an item and verify its likely veracity which it could then report using a scale to indicate its likely authenticity. So, if an item is identified as originating from a reputable source it would score higher than something originated by myself on social media.

Stephen Paul Boronski

08 March 2017

Maybe its because I have been around the block a few times, but this isn't new is it? News of the World, The Sun et al