If you’re active on the internet and social media, it’s important to be able to spot false information to prevent being misled and misleading others. It also helps protect your image as a reliable and trustworthy source of information among clients and prospects. Here are some ways to spot inaccurate information while you’re scrolling.
Check the Source
One of the easiest ways to spot misinformation is to examine where it’s coming from. Get as close as possible to the original source of the information. Also, take a good look at the webpage and URL of the story you’re reading. Websites intended to fool their audiences will often be more disorganized and less professional than legitimate ones. You can double-check where links are taking you by hovering over hyperlinked text and being on guard for misspelled or suspicious web addresses. Check for grammatical errors or awkwardly written articles on social media and websites—these may also be a sign of misinformation. Finally, if the content is stirring up a lot of negative emotion, there’s a chance it could be false information. Posts that create powerful emotions are more likely to get shared, so many people who spread misinformation will try to evoke those feelings.
Read Beyond the Headline
While it may seem obvious to read the whole article before you share it, many people will repost content after only reading part of the story or even just the headline. A lot of posts containing misinformation try to get the reader’s attention with “clickbait” headlines. Make sure to read an article in its entirety, shocking headline or not, because many misinformation articles leave important context out of the headline.
When in doubt, do a quick fact check on a suspicious article. Make sure any fact-checking websites you use are reputable and unbiased. If you see an odd or unbelievable image, you can also do a reverse image search on Google by uploading the image or copying and pasting the link to the photo. The results will show you where else this photo has been used, which can provide insight into whether it is accurate. Another simple suggestion is to see if other reliable sources are reporting on the story you’re unsure about.
When in doubt, don’t rely on information that you don’t entirely trust, and don’t pass it along to others.