The internet offers ready access to seemingly infinite information, which is good and bad. With so many sources and too few fact checkers, we become the gatekeepers of information. As a result, we see and sometimes transfer phony news, naively accepted satire and outright lies daily on social media.
How can we filter out the bulk of sham information on the internet? Nothing is foolproof but there are some ways to at least reduce the misleading material.
First, headlines can be deceiving, so read the article. I’ve seen people pulled in and sometimes livid about a headlines that is misleading, satirical or just dead wrong about the article’s content. Sometimes I wonder whether the person who composed the headline ever bothered to read the article!
Second, before you even get to the article’s body, read the article’s date. Sometimes an article written years earlier is circulated as though it is breaking news, getting readers excited, infuriated or fearful about a long-past event.
Third, investigate the site promoting the article. Some sites are deliberately inflammatory, like online “National Enquirers” while others are satirical and still others are promoted by people/groups with obviously skewed agendas. When in doubt, check out the site on Snopes.com or Google the site for background information.
Fourth, check to see if there is more than one source for the article. If no reputable major news source is confirming the news, that’s a red flag for falsity.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DON’T accept a headline as an accurate summation of an article.
DO read the article.
DO check for the article’s date.
DO investigate the site promoting the article, to see whether the site is inflammatory, satirical or bare-fanged biased.
DO check to see whether the article is corroborated on a reputable news site.
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.