How to spot #fakenews and make sure you’re not spreading false information

Janice Mook
  • Be careful of clickbait, which is misleading or fake stories used to maximise a site’s page views
  • Make sure to be critical and reverse image search pictures that seem too strange to be true
Janice Mook |

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Fake news is running rampant, especially when it comes to information about the coronavirus. Here's how to spot it and make sure you don't spread it.

Searching for information online is easy. From news updates to celebrity gossip, the internet has almost all the answers you’re looking for – and some that you might not want.

For instance, if you want to find out if a rumour about a celebrity’s dating life is true, you can type their name into the search engine, and all the relevant headlines will pop up. After clicking on one link, it turns out that the celebrity is dating someone, and the website even has blurry photos of the couple cuddling. This gives the impression that the rumour is true.

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But did this story cite any real sources or quote the celebrity? Nope? Welcome to fake news sites – websites spreading false information as clickbait to maximise a site’s page views and profits.

Some fake news websites target you to manipulate your outlook on particular topics. For example, fake news has affected politics lately, spreading made-up stories to mislead and provoke its audience.

As a result, you can be led to form strong opinions on these topics based on false information. Stolen US elections, anyone?

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Content farms have been the breeding ground for the spread of fake news. They are companies that produce content designed to top your search engine results by using search algorithms.

In one such case, content tricksters imitated the URL of online news portal HK01 and altered a real piece of news. It originally was about a boy who was sick due to spending an excessive amount of time playing video games, and they changed it to say he was sick because of the Covid vaccine.

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Here’s how to spot fake news:

  • Check the source and its author. Look for different news sources to ensure the information is accurate.
  • Don’t believe images at face value because they can be easily altered. Use Google Reverse Image Search to check if they are real.
  • Always have a critical mind. Don’t just accept content pushed to you in your news feed. Check the original news website.

Information provided by the Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB)