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Learn to spot fake news

WE are fooled by a lot of things – fake money, fake medicines, fake friends, fake rice… and even fake news! The last one has fooled countless people globally that Australia’s Macquarie dictionary chose “fake news” as word of the year for 2016. What?

In this age where information can be accessed and shared with swiftness, it is both sad and ironic that people, regardless of educational attainment – are deceived by fake news, defined by Macquarie as “disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic” and “the incorrect information being passed along by social media.” These items, written in the same manner as legitimate news stories, were made up to change results or to rake in money through advertising. The more sensational, frightening, or entertaining the fake news, the more shares. This deceptive tool also satisfies the ego of individuals fabricating such stories. All of a sudden, they gain many followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Before sharing an item whether offline or online, consider if the source is a legitimate and credible news organization.

Who wrote the story? Consider the writer’s previous works and background. Are the details factual and verifiable?

Check the story for any biased word or sentence. Are you just made to believe what you want to believe? Are there official statements from concerned authorities? Is the story carried by major dailies? If something is real and significant, it should be.

Knowing how to spot fake news saves a person from wrong decisions and their consequences. This also helps him/her avoid giving unnecessary comments and reactions, including sharing the item offline or online. Just because something is published does not mean it is true and reliable. Check different sources for the information you need. Reinforce your ability to verify data, check supporting details, identify bias, form generalizations, and make conclusions.

If you were fooled lately by anything fake, charge it to experience. Strive to learn its lessons that you may become sharper and wiser next time.

Marilyn Arayata: inspirational author, columnist, and speaker. E-mail inspire.equip@gmail.com. Always read Tempo for articles that inform, inspire, and equip! Like the Hope Boosters Facebook Page for nuggets of hope and inspiration. (Marilyn C. Arayata)