Three ways to spot fake news on social media
Fake news is easy to believe; most of the time it supports our ideologies, says writer Wynand Madidinalo Monyeseala. He says that there are three quick ways to verify the information you receive on social media, which will help to eradicate the spread of fake news.
1. Look out for Twitter Bots
Bots are generic social profiles that are automated to perform specific tasks, such as tweeting and retweeting. To make a topic or a hashtag trend on Twitter, you only require a certain number of people tweeting and retweeting the hashtag or trend at the same time.
Bots can do this in a short amount of time. In fact, most of the world's historic trends came out through bots. Ideally, one would have about 500 bots sending the same tweet at the same time, then they would retweet that very same tweet. This causes a trend.
That is the method used to spread fake information on social media. You can easily spot bots by their activity (how many tweets they tweet per day and the content of their tweets, which is mostly the same) and the anonymity of their usernames (such as @BlackManTrump).
2. Verify information more than once
It is very important to get a second and a third opinion, once you have read an article or watched a video. You can check its legitimacy by either visiting other publications to check what they say about the same topic. Do not assume that because it was published by the media that it is legit. There have been many cases where media outlets were found guilty of misinforming the public.
You should also visit YouTube to check how current the video you just watched is. Most of the videos that are shared on social media are downloaded and edited to suit the type of agenda the individual wishes to push.
3. Check the credibility of your sources
Ensure that your source of information is credible enough before you spread the information. You can do this by reading comments or reviews from other online users about the particular publication.
Usually, you'd get multiple accounts under the name of your favourite media publication and it can be a struggle to recognise who is real and who is not. But through verifications, social media has made it easier to pick official accounts from the rest. A verified account will have a tiny blue tick next to their username. This tick is used to highlight that the particular account is official and belongs to the particular media house.
Checking your source's credibility can also done through a quick browse through their profile. You can check their activity, number of followers and the kind of content that they post daily. Credible sources pride themselves in publishing quality content. They stay away from unverified information and click baits.
Fake news Social media Disinformation verified media accounts twitter bots