Do you find it hard to trust the information that you get online? Do you get weary of scores of fake news that gets spread with such ease? In this post, we will give out 8 essential tips on how to spot fake news and navigate information on the internet. Read on.
This is the age of instant information. We are bombarded by news, information of various kinds from different spheres – especially on the internet. But this has led to the rise of false information and fake news being propagated easily to rile up people’s sentiments and fooling them.
Hence, it is very important to know how to sift out the real from the fake. It is important because misinformation leads to false beliefs and false realities. While there’s always room for subjected ways of living but false information, which is actually leading to deaths in certain cases is extremely wrong and doesn’t bode well for democracy.
So, it is not only our duty to be a well-informed citizen but also imperative for us to expose false information. Here are 8 tips to navigate information on the Internet.
You might have heard this phrase “fact-checking”, it is a very recent phenomenon. There are actual people who are working as full-time fact checkers. These fact-checkers debunk every false misinformation that gets viral on the internet.
In India, you can check out sites like “Alt-News”, Boomlive, “Smhoaxslayer”, which conduct through fact-checking and help expose misinformation. So, whenever you get that forward on your WhatsApp about something that seems odd, better to fact-check it first.
One key method you should adopt while navigating the internet is the concept of Lateral Reading. Lateral reading simply means that whenever you want to search for any kind of news on the internet, do not focus on one source of information. Rather, open up another site on a new tab and search for more credible sources of information on the same thing.
For example, if you want to know about climate change in detail, don’t stick to just one website for information rather open up more websites. This helps you in sifting out what is being said across the board on an issue, in this case, Climate Change.
Going to Trustworthy Sources
You also need to have a bunch of trustworthy sources for news and information that are credible. Although almost everyone has some kind of bias involved despite the prevalence of bias there are certain news websites and news agencies that you know you can trust.
For example, my trustable sites are – The Hindu, Indian Express, BBC, New York Times, Reuters.
Now, we all have heard it from almost everyone – that we should not use Wikipedia for our source of information. Their reasons come from the fact that Wikipedia can be edited by almost anyone.
But that’s not really the case. Wikipedia is actually a pretty good source of information of one thing as a lot of contributors contribute to it. You should use Wikipedia as a part of the lateral reading we suggested. There are various pages in Wikipedia, that are actually locked that can’t be edited by anyone and is moderated by moderators.
The trick of using Wikipedia is to check the sources, which every page has at the end of it. The credibility of the sources gives credibility to that particular wiki page.
Now, suppose if you were to find some information about Climate Change which says that is not happening and it gives certain evidence. The best way to check is to verify that evidence – by doing a lateral reading.
You open up other credible websites to see if that information or evidence is credible or not. So, by doing this you will eventually find out that the evidence given is fake.
So, you encounter a photo on your WhatsApp or Facebook which seems highly implausible. How do you check the veracity of it? How do see if it is a fake or not?
Well, the simplest way is to do a reverse google search of that image. You take that photo and go to Google images and upload it and search it. It will reverse search to see where that image has been previously used or not. This way you can check the veracity of that photo.
Evaluating Data and Infographics
You often hear or read on the news about some research conducted on chocolate being healthy for your body. Then you try to find things on the internet to check and you find various kinds of data and infographics. How to know what is reliable?
Well, this is the trickiest part to do but there are ways to check it. First, you will need to go the study cited in that news or in that infographic. Second, after finding that study – go through their methodology and sample size. You can also check it by in which journal is it published and the level citations.
Now, these all are rather tricky to for a normal individual but if you can follow this technique then you can see the way people use statistics to fool people. As it is said there are “Lies, then there are damned lies, and then there are damned statistics”.
Finally, you need to practice Click restraint. This means don’t jump to clicking every salacious websites out there. The google search that you do has a lot of options on the page, and we have a habit of clicking the very first two links.
Which is a wrong way as just because they are the first links, doesn’t mean that they are the most reliable or even worth the click. They have sensational headings or sub-headings made in a way to make you click them. These are called Click-baits.
The best way is to go through the entire first page of google search and then decide on what to click and what not to. You can also go to the second page, although I know you may have never done that.
So, these are 8 essential tips to use while navigating information in the age of the internet. It is very important as we all need to aware of actual information and need to stop falling to fake news and false information online. This is a battle we all must face and fight. Till then cheers, and keep exploring yourself with Brainpundits!