Have you ever gone on social media and heard one of your favorite celebrities is dead or one of the influential people in society are said to have kicked the bucket? Then a few minutes later you hear it’s actually not true. There are several instances of this the most memorable one has to be when a parody account claimed that Nelson Mandela had died a few days months earlier than they originally stated. By the time the people realized it was a parody the news had already spread like ceasefire.
Given that it is election year fake news is going to be prominent, heck it’s already started. You know those long WhatsApp texts that end with forwarded as received; they aren’t stopping anytime soon in fact high chances they will increase. Tweets and Facebook posts about news from so called credible sources will also be on the rise. Bloggers who have self-seeking interests might post inaccurate content. Those pictures of a certain disaster that someone will claim is happening in a certain corner in Kenya just to find out it occurred in a city in another country might also be on the rise.
So how do you spot fake news? Craig Silverman wrote an article on best practices for social media verification that gives you a few guidelines you should follow in order to know whether the news you are receiving is a hoax or not. The guidelines include:
Are they where they claim to be tweeting about? Someone might be tweeting about something that is happening in Mandera yet they are in the comfort of their homes in Kileleshwa or the summer bunnies that haven’t been in the country for the past 10 years start tweeting about an occurrence in Kenya. The problem with this is that most likely they are giving second hand information which might not be as accurate.
How long has the account being in existence. If the account is new and has just started tweeting on that specific subject it is probably a hoax. If the account has been existence for long you should confirm whether it has been giving credible information from the start. If an account has several instances of inaccurate information what’s to say that the information they are tweeting now is accurate.
Examine weather reports and shadows
This is mostly applicable in videos and pictures. Check the weather reports to check whether they match with the claimed date and time. You’ll be shocked to find that it was probably raining in that area and the video you have is full of sunshine literally.
You know that saying birds of a feather flock together. Check who they follow and who follows them. This might be a bit tedious if they have many followers but high chances they aren’t following as many people. You can also check how many retweets they get and what they retweet. This helps you determine whether they have authority on the subject they are discussing about.
Who has spoken about them?
Have your friends or colleagues spoken about them? Are there people who have rambled about them? However you also have to check whether the people who have rambled about them really do exist.
You can also go the traditional way to confirm whether they actually exist either by emailing them or talking to them through Skype or planning an actual face to face meeting. This might also help with the catfish problem though this one you can easily solve by sending 10 shillings to their Mpesa and you discover Jane is actually Julius.