When using Social Media, most of us have experienced the following: Either you have read fake news or you have spread fake news yourself – unintentionally. But how can you tell whether an information on the internet is true or a misinformation?

What exactly are Fake news?

We all remember former US-President Donald Trump in his press conferences suspecting journalists to spread fake news about him. Fake news or misinformation are essentially wrong information, that are factually inaccurate or misleading. This could be for example messages or posts on Social Media, or edited real-looking photos or videos.

Why do people spread Fake news?

As mentioned in my introduction, some people share misinformation unintentionally.This happens when fake news headlines give a certain reaction to the reader, such as fear, anger, anxiety or joy. Most of the time, people tend to read only the headline but not the entire article and share the fake news, because they were emotionally moved by the headline.

What are the dangers of spreading fake news?

Fake news that are shared online have a potential influence on beliefs and behaviours but also to introduce people to extreme ideologies around politics, ethnicies, religion and sexual identity. Fake news are presented as a fact – mostly by right wing parties and their politicians, homophobic organisations and racist individuals. But this can lead to severe other problems:

People believing and sharing the fake news might be trapped in social media filter bubbles where the same extreme views are shared and seen as the only truth. They can be found in private Social Media channels or groups or on platforms like Telegram, where only like-minded individuals are welcomed and interact with each other. People with a different point of view on the same topic will be silenced or kicked out of the platform which results that the opinions will turn more and more extreme. This can also lead to an addiction, where individuals isolate themselves from their family and friends, because they do not share the same point of view.

During the Covid-19 pandemic we have read many conspiracy theories and myths about the pandemic itself like being launched by the NWO to destroy the world’s economy or that vaccines include a microchip, that will allow the NWO to control people’s thoughts and actions of those who got vaccinated. Those conspiracy theories can encourage people to act in ways to increase the risk of their own well-being and health by harming themselves or others.

A famous example: When Donald Trump suggested research into whether Coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body and some Americans actually tried this.
 “And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Donald Trump,

How can you avoid falling for fake news online?

Check known and verified accounts on Social Media and websites. Use Google by doing research (for example: “Drinking disinfectant against Corona – fake news?” If you can’t easily find the information, it might be fake. If a post, email, picture, video or a link looks suspicious, it probably is. Be aware, that it is possible that accounts and authorities are being copied or hacked to share fake news, which has never been spread by the original accounts. But how can you find out, whether you are falling for fake news or not? There are surely certain alarm signs on how trustworthy online content is:

  • Who or what is the news source? Is it well-known?
  • Is the information fact or is it a personal opinion?
  • Is the information trying to change your views or behaviour?
  • Is there only a headline and a teaser that expects a reaction like anger, fear from you and makes you want to click the link?
  • Is the text accurately written or does it include lots of poor grammar and spelling errors?

In my next article I will write about how you should act, when someone in your family is trapped in sharing fake news and conspiracy theories.

Fake news – one of the biggest challenges of Social Media
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The opinions on this blog are of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of ELfR.

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