Social media and the internet can be one of the main ways we get information nowadays and they're really important in how we form opinions and make decisions about all manner of things!
Here are some tips on how to make sure you're able to easily identify what is fake news, and getting accurate information that means you can make the best decision possible.
Check different sources
You might see a story on one website – but is anyone else talking about it? If not, it might not be true. Check out lots of different websites and search the story online to get as much information about the event or topic as you can.
Some websites and media (radio, tv, newspapers, etc) may already have their own opinions about certain topics that can make a difference to how they write about things, or sometimes a piece may have been written by a contributor who has shared their own opinion on something – which means that they might not always be sharing a balanced view.
Many websites and news outlets are neutral and try to offer an unbiased, balanced view when talking about any topic, so it’s really important to look up news stories from different places to see who is saying what.
Always read the small print
Lots of surveys or polls might offer easy to read statistics or bar charts that show somebody winning, or that something negative or positive is happening.
But it’s really important to look into those statistics a bit more. Where has the information come from? Did they only ask a certain number of people? Is it an opinion being shown rather than fact? Go to the source to get the full picture.
It’s also really useful to compare different surveys, papers or studies on the same subject to learn more about a topic. Has any recent surveying been done to show a change in opinions or fact?
Check out FullFact's guide on how to spot misleading poll figures.
Don’t believe what you see at face value
Seen a screenshot of a tweet with someone saying something offensive, or something that seems completely different to what they believe in or are campaigning for now? Or maybe it just seems hard to believe or paints them in a negative light? Maybe something just feels... off?
It can be really easy to fake screenshots of social media posts.
Try looking for the original content using search and using some of the words used in the post or try to find the account who may have posted it.
Of course, it’s possible that if real, the original poster might have even deleted the post.
There are websites like Politwoops that allow you to search for tweets that politicians have deleted for example. It's also a good reminder that what gets posted on the internet stays there forever... so remember to think before you tweet!
Find the original
Videos and images can be edited quite easily now.
If it’s a clip from a live event or from a tv interview, it could have been altered or edited in a way that appears to show something out of the original context.
Try to find the original video or interview from the source and watch that instead, or find other videos of the same event to get different perspectives and footage. It might show a different story.
Check the source
Lots of people can be caught out with fake websites or fake social media accounts.
Make sure to check and see if it’s a parody (funny/comedic) account or website. These are set up by people to make fun of certain people or current events.
Also have a look at the URL of the website you're visiting. Does it start with 'https://'? Does it have a contact page with a legitimate address?
Check out our video about identifying fake news below.
Facebook has also introduced ‘Page Transparency’ sections onto Pages. You can find this just under the 'About' section of a page. There you can see where the people who run the page are from, what adverts they’ve run and when the page was created. So make sure to check out the page that's posted the content you're about to share.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to viewing and consuming content online, is to always make sure you read the full article or watch the whole video, before commenting on it on sharing it with your audience.
Is it a hoax?
Figuring out if something you're seeing online is a hoax can be tricky.
Websites like Snopes are really good at investigating whether something is a hoax or not. Just type in the story you've seen or heard and you can find out if it's fake, partially true or true.
Other sites that can help
FullFact is an independent fact-checking charity, which can be really useful to keep an eye on especially during election times.
It also checks viral social media posts, which can be handy to use if you've got some share-happy friends and relatives.
Find out more information about voting and the 2019 General Election.