How can we identify and stop the spread of fake news in the digital space?

By Kevin Odundo
The world is at a point in time where fake news exists. As active consumers of information, we
cannot expect to interact with the truth only. We must be keen on biases and falsehoods that
exist in information, and this is more important in news sources that cover controversial or
political stories. We have to assess this information critically.

The existence of fake news is not new, however, what is new is how easy it is to share the information; both true and false.
Before we delve in, let us ask ourselves one question; what is fake news? It refers to deliberate untruths or stories that contain some truth but aren’t completely accurate.
Separating truth from falsehood meticulously can be a daunting job. However, it is usually a worthwhile endeavor once the truth is out. Below are some of the ways to weed out the truth
from fake news.
1. Develop a Critical Mindset
One of the main reasons why fake news is such a big issue is because it is often believable.
Most of the fake news is also published with the intention to create fear and/or anger. Therefore we
must keep our emotions in check and balance, and approach such news critically.
2. Check the Source
In most cases, people don’t really sit down to consider the sources of the material that they are
interacting with. It is our responsibility to know the legitimacy of the sources of news. Here,
we have to roll up our sleeves and investigate the site in order to verify its content.
3. Read Beyond the Headlines
Often headlines bear no resemblance to what lies beneath. Headlines are sometimes out there
to hook people into reading the story. Get to know the whole story. We have to read past the
headlines before sharing information. Some content creators employ the use of clickbait by
using misleading and sensationalized headings in order to attract readers. The headlines miss very important information and instead use exaggerated claims to make the content look more captivating than it is.

4. Check the Date
Social media often resurrects outdated stories. Some of this old news is mostly diluted before
being published for consumers. It is important to verify the dates as we interact with
information on social media platforms.

5. Ask the Experts
In every field that news can be generated from, there are experts who can have a conversation
about a specific topic. It’s good to know their opinions. These experts can be librarians or
fact-checking sites.

6. Check your Biases
Most of the time our judgement is clouded by our own beliefs or emotions. As human beings
who are information consumers, we tend to believe stories that affirm our beliefs and shovel
away the contrary. If a story is outrageous, take some time to think about its agenda.
7. Check the Author
If the authenticity of the author is questionable, do an investigation on him or her in order to
verify his or her credibility. However, you should be very careful if the author is not
mentioned or the author’s identity is hidden. In conclusion, as consumers, we are responsible for what we interact with as well as how we
approach it. It is our mandate to do fact-checking before sharing information out with the
world.