In light of Donald Trump’s recent election, many fingers have been pointed at Facebook’s potential contribution. There have been voices accusing the network’s promotion of fake election news to the detriment of real stories, an idea rejected by Mark Zuckerberg as “crazy”.
Moreover, the Facebook founder also declared, in a recent post on his social media channel, that “of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.”In spite of these constant re-assurances, however, Facebook updated its Audience Network policy, which already says it will not display ads in sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites.
Google has not escaped such allegations either and, as a response, said it would ban purveyors of fake news on the web from using its online advertising service, AdSense.
However, these measures are probably not enough to keep us safe from the daily cavalcade of alarming headlines thrown in our direction. Here are a few tips and tricks which you can use to stay safe and sane from all the frenzy:
- Make sure the domain is legitimate
Some fake domains are easier to spot than others. For example, a redundant extension such as “.com.net” will certainly raise suspicions and a domain that slightly modifies a well-known website (by adding a “the” – thecnn.com or replacing a letter – gnn.com) should never be trusted or clicked on. Not only will you be misinformed but you may also end up with a virus posting on your behalf on social media.
- Watch out for grammar mistakes
Being a grammar nazi does have its perks. Many fake news websites are created in “farms” outside the country they target (they are harder to track that way) and editors are usually not native speakers of the language they write in. So watch out for unnatural phrasing! If it sounds wrong, it probably is.
- Be wary of ALL CAPS
You know the headlines we are talking about. Those that are practically screaming at us, inducing a state of panic. Do yourself a favor and don’t click on those.