In times like these, the internet and social media are important channels of communication. However, this also increases the breeding ground for disinformation and fake news. We all have to be attentive and take action. Our tips help to uncover fake news.
Especially in times of crisis, the internet and social media are in high demand as news sources. Information spreads widely in the digital world in a very short time. This is very problematic when it comes to fake news.
Fake news is intentionally circulated to manipulate social or political opinions or to pursue commercial goals. They are often freely invented, taken out of context or highly dramatised. They are spread, for example, about certain groups of people in order to exclude them socially. Or to influence political opinion and carry out propaganda.
Their forms of appearance are manifold: from serious-looking news, content with lurid headlines, edited images, false connections between images and text, to misinterpreted studies or fake videos. But calling unwelcome news or reports "fake news" in the first place in order to stir up mistrust is also a manifestation of the phenomenon.
Why are we susceptible to disinformation?
Fake news have one thing in common: they are designed to appeal to people emotionally, to impress, irritate, excite and thus be shared as often as possible. In this way, they become a kind of "false truth" with the underlying misconception: "So many people have shared it - they can't all be wrong!”.
It has also been proven how effective repetitions are. The more often we receive a piece of information through different channels, the more likely we are to be convinced that it carries at least some truth. Our poor memory supports this effect, because we often don't remember from which source we got the information and whether it was serious or false.
How to recognise fake news
Fake news shakes confidence in politics and the media and damages democracy. They are not always easy to recognise. Here are a few simple and effective tips:
- Be critical: can the content be true? Do pictures and text fit? What are the intentions?
- Check the source: who published it? Look at the imprint. Do others also report on it?
- Pay attention to the choice of language: Is it sensational and highly emotional or serious and neutral?
- Use fact checks: has the news already been checked? Professional fact-checking organisations such as CORRECTIV or Mimikama publish their check results freely available on the internet and also explain how to do it.
- Check yourself and share the results: For pictures, there is the Google reverse search, for videos the YouTube DataViewer. Upload the material and find out in which context it has already been used. Sharing your results helps others.
Furthermore, it is important to label your own opinions as such and to name quoted sources. This helps others with the interpretation. And as with many things on the internet: listen to your gut feeling and only share, retweet or forward information if you are really sure about its content.
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