You can call it misinformation, false news, alternative facts or misleading journalism. The internet is plagued with ubiquitous lies & fraudulent stories, promoted by real people and bot accounts, alike. It’s awful out there, folks.
And it’s not just the news. Forwarded emails of photos and videos dupe people into believing inaccurate science. Ads and posts convince people into strange & unnecessary behaviors through clickbait manipulation. On the internet, you are constantly targeted with junk info.
Protect your brain. Defend against the garbage that laps up against the shores of your consciousness. Here are some tools and tactics:
There are many websites devoted to revealing false news and fraudulent info. Search any of these to see if they can validate or refute any subject:
Factcheck by AFP
Hoax Slayer shut down its website earlier this year, but still debunks on Twitter.
Check out Wikipedia for other fact-checking recommendations, too.
Reverse Image Search
If you’re looking at an unbelievable picture, you can search for it on the internet. When you find it on other websites, it may become apparent that it is either true or altered/fake.
To perform a “reverse image search”, many use Google Image Search. Click the camera icon at the end of the search field, and Google will allow you to upload any picture file, or paste in a weblink to any photo. The search results should help you learn more about the origins of your dubious picture.
There aren’t a lot of good options for reverse video searches. While some tools exist, they are more for creators who are looking for plagiarism. And they often cost money to use. If you’re looking to check a video for legitimacy, you can take a screenshot and upload that one frame to a reverse image search site. You might also simply visit YouTube and type in a search that describes the video you want to check.
Learn More about Misinformation
There are many institutions out there that discuss this societal problem, and have advice for you. Consider reading up on misinformation and how to guard against it:
The Verge: How to Fight Lies, Tricks and Chaos Online
Brookings: How to Combat Fake News and Disinformation
And you may also want to peruse the fact-checking websites listed at the top of this post, even when you don’t need to debunk something. Casual reading of those types of sites may teach you the hallmarks of false info and train you to be more judgmental about what you read.