The abundance of fake news on social media is a huge problem, but it isn't just the responsibility of these platforms to stop it. People sharing these false headlines are just as responsible for increasing the circulation of these stories.
Here are a few best practices people can use when reading articles online to determine their credibility:
1. Pay attention to the domain and URL
Sites might look professional and familiar, but if they have an uncommon ending like .com.co, that should tip you off that you need to double check its legitimacy.
2. Read the 'About Us' section
Most sites will have a basic info section with straightforward details about its background, mission statement and leadership. If the language sounds flowery or melodramatic, you should be skeptical.
3. Look at the quotes in a story and who said them.
Most stories will include several quotes from multiple sources from professionals or experts in the fields. You can do a quick Google search to verify the source and the accuracy of the quote. On the other hand, if there is a lack of quotes within an article, then suspicions should arise.
4. Check the comments
Because headlines are written in a way to clickbait a reader online, they become misleading and attached to stories that are almost completely unrelated. These types of articles will generate a lot of comments calling out the article for being fake or misleading on social media.
We want to empower individuals to use their brain and to make informed decisions in order to engage in deeper thought and dialogue about issues. However, let's make sure we are informing ourselves and others with only the FACTS.