Protect America—Learn to Spot Fake News
Fake news poses one of the biggest threats to American freedom and democracy. As Americans increasingly use social media as a primary news source, we must be weary of the rampant fake news spread online by our enemies, both foreign and domestic.
When fake news spreads, it imposes on our freedom and democratic institutions. As election season approaches, it is especially important to be on the lookout for fake news sources online. Recently, Russians have been spreading strategic disinformation about COVID-19 and their invasion of Ukraine, and have spread election misinformation in the past. Patriots won’t let our enemies undermine American democracy.
Unfortunately, one of the main ways that misinformation is spread is through ordinary citizens, as fake news is usually easy to read and enticing to share. While research shows that most Americans can spot fake news if they pause to think about it, most people don’t take the time to think before they read and then share.
Learning how to spot fake news is the first step that all Americans can take to defend our great nation. Here are six steps you can take to spot fake news and stop the spread of dangerous misinformation:
Develop Critical Mindset. When you see a news story, take a moment to ask yourself why was this story written? Is it trying to give me information, or is it trying to get me to do or feel something? A main tactic of fake news is to tap into emotions to get a reaction from the reader. Most trusted news is focused on reporting, not getting the reader to feel something.
Check The Source. Much of the news we see online comes from unestablished sources. Only share from trusted locations. Look out for things such as spelling errors, lack of citations, and strange website extensions—these are all signs of unreliable sources.
Who Else Is Reporting the Story? An easy way to check if a story is true is to see if other sources are reporting it. Check, has any other established and trusted source picked up the story? Are other sites with the story legit? Watch out for sites that seem like click-bait or are foreign-focused, they often run fake news. A great place to check if a story is true or fake is Snopes.com.
Think About the Evidence. Including facts, quotes, and specific citations, especially on controversial topics, is a defining factor of a trusted news source. When you see a story, ask yourself, does the evidence stack up?
Don’t Accept Images at Face Value. Fake news sources use real images out of context all the time. They also edit photos to go along with their stories. Use things such as Google Reverse Image Search to check where an image came from and to see if it has been altered. Strange shadows, odd color blocks, and jagged edges are all signs of doctored photos to look out for.
Listen to Your Gut. Fake news is geared to play on our emotions. Its creators want you to feel angry and worried. They want you to stop trusting American institutions and your fellow patriotic citizens. If something seems off or anti-American, make sure to critically evaluate it.
If you come across a story that seems off, or you are in doubt, don’t share it. Don’t let our enemies win.