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Sr. John Says: How to identify fake news

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Sr. John Michele Southwick, IHM

Special Correspondent

You have been hearing it all your life. It has been around for centuries. It used to be spread by word of mouth, then via newspaper articles by writers who didn’t research enough or check their sources. Now, with everything going viral it has skyrocketed. It is, of course, fake news.

You don’t know who to believe or where to get the truth. It gets to the point where you don’t trust anything you read; or, some trust everything they read. Either way, it is not good.

We need to be able to trust what is going on around us and be able to sift through the “fake news” to find some truth. Facebook and Google have both stated that they will crack down on fake news sites as much as possible, but in the end it is the users, like us, who need to be the defenders of the truth and not pass on “fake” stories.

So you say, “how do I check them out?” Well, there are several ways to do that. But, they take a little time and energy on your part. Here are some tips and tricks to spot fake news:

· Check out the source. You will find some websites that only list email addresses, or others that actually say they are satire or “fantasy news.” Snopes.com has a list of known fake news websites that will help you out with your search as does Factcheck.org.

· Take a good look at the byline. Check out who the author is and look them up.

· Can you find support for the story anywhere else? If not, then it is probably not true.

· Check out the date of a story. Dates can be changed to make it look like it is a new story based on old information.

· Check your own prejudices when looking at an article. Are you more willing to believe it if it fits your beliefs?

· Remember, the world today is filled with satire. Is what you are reading for the purpose of news or to get a laugh?

Be smart and be aware of information around you. Check the facts before sharing that story!

Contact the writer: [email protected]

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