Uncovering the fakes

(Posted on 06/09/18)

Uncovering the fakes

 Ask anyone under 45 to identify their main source of news and chances are the answer will be online. The audience for TV news is still large but it is ageing. Increasingly younger people find their news on websites and apps, via search engines and social media. Currently, the BBC is the only news media in the UK to reach more people with online news than Facebook.

Reliance on online news may be slightly worrying, bearing in mind the recently breaking scandals about fake news feeds and manipulation by some of the internet’s biggest players. These days when anyone can post pretty much whatever they like online with no evidence to back it up, it is more important than ever to keep our critical faculties honed, regardless of what we are reading and where we are reading it.  The picture here posted on social media by Mahmoud A Sarhan may or may not be a donkey painted to look like a zebra. The zoo has denied it is a fake. We all have use our own judgement here to draw our own conclusions!

Here our top 5 tips on sorting out fake from real news online.

1.       When you are directed to a website, scan the About Us section, if anything looks ‘dodgy’, it probably is.

2.       Who is the author or journalist? Check out the byline, does it look like a real person? Google the name to check out any potential political bias and to see if the writer has any relevant credentials to inform what he or she is saying. 

3.       Is the news being reported widely on sites you already trust? If they haven’t picked it up, there may be a very good reason for that.

4.       How up to date is the story? It’s very easy to recycle an older story to look like new and more relevant or scandalous as a result. Various celebrities have been sabotaged this way. 

5.       Who is quoted? Do the sources or the quotes themselves even sound plausible?

If you’re still unsure of the veracity of a news story, there are a number of fact checking websites available to help you make the best judgement possible. See https://fullfact.org as just one example.

Choosing the right marketing and PR company is not always a simple black and white decision. Whether you are developing a new brand or need marketing advice on how to spread the word about who you are and what you do, contact the Zebra team to see if Zebra is the right fit for you.