By Cassandra Jaramillo
The Dallas Morning News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The false news epidemic is getting a lot of attention, especially after an election where many false or misleading articles led Facebook’s trending list.
The Dallas Morning News
“Mom, not everything you read on Facebook is real,” I said to her in Spanish.
She was insistent that a remake of Forrest Gump was going to be filmed in our small town of Beaumont. She even knew that Channel 18 reported it.
I quickly reminded her there’s no local news outlet called Channel 18 News in southeast Texas. But I was still curious, so I logged on to Facebook and found that many of my hometown friends, too, were sharing the article.
It was entirely false.
Yet the article still lives online and may make yet another round on the internet.
The false news epidemic is getting a lot of attention, especially after an election where many false or misleading articles led Facebook’s trending list. It’s worrisome in an age where 6 out of 10 Americans use social media platforms to consume news, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
On Monday, Google and Facebook announced plans to combat the problem through restrictions on advertising, Reuters reported.
But some are taking the matter of media literacy into their own hands. Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of media studies at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, has created a list called “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y and Satirical ‘News’ Sources. ”
I love my mother dearly, but she could use some tips on verifying news sources. Zimdars’ list helps break down the red flags. Here are her tips, reprinted in full:
Avoid websites that end in “lo” (example: Newslo) . These sites specialize in taking a piece of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts.”
Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co”, they are often fake versions of real news sources.
Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes, lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (example: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY, it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.