By Amrin Pisey,
We’re now living in the information age, an era where information is widely spread and easily accessed through technology.
I used to be proud of being able to share and receive countless information on social media from my friends. But it seems that everything’s changed once I realized that not all the information is real. Since then I’ve become very worried to live in this information age, where there’s more and more information, but less and less truth.
I think at least once in your life, you’ve come across fake news. Maybe you heard about it or even shared it on your social media account. And I believe that we don’t actually intend to spread fake news; it’s just that we don’t know how to verify whether those pieces of information are real or not.
According to Pew Research, people have a high tendency to be tricked by fake news because of the confirmation bias, a condition when our brains only accept information that agrees with what we already know and believe to be true, even though this new information is fake.
Whether or not you want it to happen, sharing fake news can cause trouble to not only you but also other people and your society. It hurts your reputation too. You can be perceived by your friends as an ignorant person. As a result, you can be blocked or unfriended by your social media friends as well. Moreover, you can become a troublemaker who destroys other people’s reputation if you share a false scandal or information about that person or you can possibly bring your country into war or conflict and make your society unstable as well.
We all don’t want to become a troublemaker, so let’s share only true and reasonable news articles or information with these quick and easy tips:
- Check the sources
Sometimes, news that are popular and have been shared by many people aren’t real. Some pages or websites are just created to earn money online, and some are created to ruin other people and pollute the society. So the first quick tip is to check the sources. Before sharing any news on your social media account, make sure that the sources are reliable, informed and authoritative such as well-known media, newspapers and TV networks.
There are different ways to consider whether a news site is reliable or not. The first thing is to look at the author. Sometimes, some news articles don’t provide the name of the author. So, you can check whether the news article has the name of the author, or whether it was written by an expert in the field or not. Another way is to look at the publisher. To make it easier, you can check to see if there are credible sites linked to the page and whether they are in charge for their publishing and content. One more way is to look at their accuracy. You can check to see whether the information has citations, references, and is updated and from professional organizations or not.
There are several local reliable sources in our country that I have known so far such as Phnom Penh Post, Koh Santepheap Daily, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America (VOA) Cambodia, Radio France International (RFI),etc. For the international news, the well-known and credible sources are CNN, BBC News, Channel News Asia, The Washington Post, Independent, etc.
2. Be skeptical of the headline
If you come across any news published by an unknown website or page, please do not just share it immediately without even reading the content of the news. The truth of the news should depend on the content or body of the article not the title. Just because the news’ title is catchy, doesn’t mean it is true. Some pages or websites are only scams. They put only the title and photo for sharing but have nothing at all in the content. Either that or the whole article has nothing related to the title at all.
So before deciding to share any information, please make sure that you click to read the whole article to confirm that those pieces of information are reasonable and true.
3. Be aware of the photos
The photos of the news article can also help us to verify whether the news is real or not. Some pages or websites use the photos that aren’t relevant to the title at all. Sometimes, those fake news also don’t use the full picture, or they use photos that seem to have been edited many times and look exaggerated. So along with the headline, you should also be aware of the photos used as thumbnails or the ones inside these news articles.
You are what you share so make sure that what you share is trustworthy and useful for other people. Do you have any different tips to spot fake news? Sharing is caring, so please share your tips with us too! 🙂
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.