Back in the days when fake news was screaming about aliens visiting our planet or people coming back from death, it was easy to avoid publishers with rubbish information. Nowadays, an increased access to communication and media has led to the flood of false or useless information. As a result, even those people who want to avoid all this mess are not successful in spotting fraud.
That is why media literacy is so important now. It gives us an answer to a crucial question on how to reach, browse, and consume information wisely both online and offline. How can we beat that flood of information to evaluate and communicate with a clear head?
Information literacy is something we need to be taught from childhood and develop throughout our lives. It helps us to adapt to the changing environment and thrive in it. It empowers people in all aspects of their lives and helps reach their goals. The modern society demands social inclusion and activeness that cannot be reached without these skills.
How to spot fake news and where does it come from?
These days, fake news articles are everywhere. We all face such situations when you spot the same news on various websites and, thus, believe that the information is true. However, more and more publishers start spreading news without checking their authenticity.
If a few years ago you knew the most noticeable yellow press sources, today anything can turn out to be fake.
So, how do you protect yourself from the rubbish and determine what to read?
Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe or formula that would tell you the secret of content.
However, there are a few tips that can help you sort through the information.
The main rule to follow is: if something seems too ridiculous to be true, it’s probably just a fabrication. How many times have the articles with “incredible, shocking, and you won’t believe it” titles caught your attention? Don’t worry, you are not the only one to be tricked. Clickbait is created specifically for this purpose. Such fake news examples as “Shocking Truth About Your Favorite Actor” or “You’ll Never Believe Who This Artist Is Marrying” usually contain nothing meaningful and, often, are completely untrustworthy.
The second tip is to verify the source. Most content on the web is not unique. Usually, it is just a rewrite based on other sources. If you really want to know the truth, follow the news to its source. If it’s a reputable journal or publisher, relax and enjoy the article.
Social networks are a constant presence in our everyday lives. Most people prefer to get information there. However, you should understand that any social platform is just a storage where any information has the right to exist. Facebook fake news, for example, often goes without a source, author, and precise data.
Have a look at the article. Though it may seem as counter-productive when you want to avoid meaningless information, look through the actual text. Sometimes, those unbelievable titles and even clickbait are produced for comic effect and can be well-written.
Check for exaggerations and grammar. No reputable publisher will hire a writer who cannot progress the story logically or makes three mistakes in one word. Exaggerations are also a widespread device of yellow papers.
Be careful when subscribing to any media sources and follow reliable publishers to stay informed.
Stay Tuned and Follow Current Trends
Avoiding fakes is the easiest when you don’t pay attention to the news at all. However, how can you know what’s trending right now in this case? Social inclusion that is so important today demands us to stay tuned all the time. To keep up with media and trends, social media is the best tool to use.
While there are many and various fakes on all social platforms, there is also much useful information.
Today, social media is so important that even those newspapers that your parents have read in youth have their official accounts and publish their content on social media. Find a couple of reliable sources and subscribe to them.
Create lists of the main names of a sphere and follow them. People who have authority in their field of work won’t publish rubbish and mainly concentrate on something useful. Read their blogs and look through the comments section to see the reaction and feedback. If something is not accurate, people won’t fail to highlight the fact to correct the author.
To find information on the latest trends, social media is your best option yet again. You can choose the “trending” section of any website and find what people are interested in the most. Be careful and filter the title for something useful and not obviously misleading. You can also search specific phrases to see all pieces of information on the topic and determine the truth.
However, don’t rely solely on social media. Find some popular websites or blogs providing hot news. Factual accuracy is important for any source of information. You have to be able to separate it from political leaning or sponsored content. Don’t believe the anecdotal evidence and questionable surveys. Believe the news that has an unbiased source.
To choose the right website, check whether it has an About page. The information about the source may be crucial in your decision to follow it. Who are the publishers and writers? Do they specialize in the sphere they are speaking about? Maybe, some of them are popular bloggers that you’ve been following for a while.
There are many amateurs speaking about popular trends as if they know what they are doing. Many of them don’t even do proper research and sell you a fake in a colorful wrapper.
Remember that half-truths are spreading even faster than the explicitly fake news.
Content Filtering: Get an Unbiased Opinion
Web content filtering is your way out of the information mess that reigns the web today. The basics of the process are simple. Yet, if you want to be sure and make the process more effective, you can use such fake news checker as Snopes. The website was initially founded as a tool to research urban legends. In time, it developed into one of the biggest platforms for fact-checking.
Snopes has been included into “Best of the Web” lists numerous times and is highly regarded by the leading journalists and publishers alike. The service has more than 20 years of experience in rumors research and can tell you the truth fast and accurately. This is a completely independent project that does not advertise any products or services and is completely unbiased. High levels of transparency, perfect image, and objectivity help Snopes remain a leading tool of digital literacy.
Another useful content filtering service is MediaBiasFactCheck. It helps you to check the bias of any source of news you are reading. This is also an independent entity that helps people look through frauds and deceptive news. The company is full of researchers who have to be completely objective and strive to inform the audience about truthful news and information.
It is important to find a truthful source that you can believe. Thus, the content filtering software market is diverse and serves various purposes.
If you still don’t believe in the effectiveness of these checkers or have kids at home who have to be guarded against inappropriate content, use content blockers. They will filter the information for you, block unnecessary ads, and any other annoying web content that is shown to you despite your wish.
In any case, you had better use some additional software to help you navigate through the sea of content and not get lost in it.
Information Literacy Struggle
Nowadays, information is everywhere. It fills our devices, conversations, media, and all other spheres of our lives.
There are two sides to easy access to information that we have today. The obvious one is convenience and speed of acquiring some piece of knowledge. However, not all of us think about the other side of it that is less pleasant. “Knowledge is power,” some people say. We say that sorting through the mountains of information and absorbing only the right knowledge is the true form of power nowadays.
Originality is something that avoids many media sources today. As a result, the same news circulates the web and people blindly believe in it. Some of us are doubtful enough to take some time and find out the truth, others simply don’t have time or wish to bother. Don’t be fooled, learn to filter the content you consume. Our mind is our engine that has to be sound and clear. Don’t pollute it with rubbish.
Media and information literacy is a necessary tool of our learning process. Keep it alongside your intelligence and common sense. Be smart about the information you get and avoid meaningless and obviously fake sources.
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