So how can we recognise fake news? 

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Fake news is often created by social media bots which masquerade as genuine accounts.  They can put out huge amounts of information and this gains traction as the accounts gain followers.  The way that social media works means that an individual engaging with this content will see more of it and therefore fake news gains credibility.

Trolls – people who deliberately go about trying to upset other users – are also responsible for fake news.  In some countries ‘troll farms’ exist to put out misinformation which will cause political upset in other countries.  Russia has long been suspected of having these and is thought to have got involved in Brexit and the US election of 2016.

If you suspect something is fake news you can look at the following:

  1. Source – check the web address that it is coming from, fake news websites often have spelling errors or are just a jumble of letters and numbers. Google the website if unsure.
  2. Author – research whether or not they are real and credible. Do they have a specific political agenda?
  3. Are others reporting the story? – if it is genuine credible news sources will also be reporting it.
  4. Be critical – fake news is designed to inflame emotions, step back and consider if this is a genuine story or just trying to get you to click on a link.
  5. The facts – real news generally contains a lot of figures, references and statistics, if these are missing ask yourself why.
  6. A joke – satirical websites are increasingly popular, check that the website it originates from isn’t one of them.
  7. Use a fact checking site – like BBC Reality Check, Politifact or Fact Check.

Examples of fake news

Recently there have been high profile examples of fake news circulating.  During the recent Covid 19 pandemic it was widely shared and believed by some that the disease was caused by the introduction of 5G technology.  Allegedly these repressed the immune system and the virus spread via radio waves.  This was repeatedly denied by experts but still the myth persisted.

President Putin has repeatedly renounced genuin

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