Social media outlets are now an important source for news updates. However, anyone is allowed to share their thoughts and opinions online with few vetting processes. Which is why it’s important to fact-check information you find online before sharing it.
Here are some easy precautions you can take to verify news you find online:
- Take a second to study the account and post you are viewing. Before viewing a piece of information you find online and running with it, it’s important to take a second and really look at the post you are viewing. Is it a news report, an ad, or just an opinion? Read the “About Us” section of the account to figure out what kind of account it is, and to find out if the account is a legitimate source. Information coming from a news source will usually include links to the source of their information. If an informational post doesn’t include any sourced information, you can ask for sources, verify on your own, or disregard the information.
- Find experts. It is now fairly easy to find experts online. If you are researching a certain topic or issue, find experts on the topic for reliable information. Be careful as anyone can claim to be an expert, so it is important to verify the expert you are following. Most experts will probably have the blue verified check mark next to their account name on social media channels, so look out for this when verifying an expert.
- Don’t be fooled by viral posts. Sure a post can have a lot of reactions such as comments, shares, and likes, however this does not necessarily mean the post contains accurate information. Posts usually go viral due to the humor behind it as opposed to the accuracy of the information. That being said, be careful not to believe viral posts right away.
- Look at the quotes in an article. Who said them? Are these people a reliable source for the topic?
- Check the comments. See what others are saying about the story. Do they think the information is accurate or are they finding false information?
- Reverse image search. This will help you find the original source of photos, so you may determine if a photograph is coming from a reliable source and portrays correct information.
- Get the NewsGuard Browser Extension. This extension rates sources with either a green or red rating to help users know which news and information is trustworthy.
- Explore Media Bias Charts. A media bias chart shows the political bias and reliability of media outlets. This can help you avoid false information and manipulation.
Why it’s important to fact-check for your business:
Fact-checking is especially important when posting to your business accounts because your followers are trusting that the information you are providing them with is correct. It is your responsibility to fact-check any content you post as there are consequences with spreading false information. Not only can you hurt your professional credibility and brand, but you can also offend someone and contribute to the spread of inaccurate information. It is important to be ethically responsible and build a good reputation for your brand. You want to build a connection with your followers and want them to trust you, which is why you should fact-check your content. Be sure to follow our guide above for an easy way to do so!
Hutchinson, Andrew. “A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Fact-Checking.” SocialMediaToday, 27 July 2020, https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/a-beginners-guide-to-social-media-fact-checking-infographic/582399/
Otis, Cindy. “How to Fact-Check Social Media Posts and Avoid Fake News Online.” WNDB, 16 July 2020, https://diversebooks.org/how-to-fact-check-social-media-posts-and-avoid-fake-news-online/
Cohn, Carolyn. “The Importance of Fact-Checking Your Content.” CompuKol Communications LLC, n.d., https://www.compukol.com/the-importance-of-fact-checking-your-content/