Education

How to Spot Fake News for Students

The term fake news has been around for many years due to the rise of social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Gone are the days when people only got news from the television, newspapers, or radio. 

With so much information being fed to us all the time, it can be hard to tell what is real and what isn’t, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. With the help of a professional academic writer from CustomWritings.com, a custom essay writing service, we will look at how to spot fake news for students in college or university.

Examples of Fake News for Students

To be able to spot any fake news, it is important for students to know the classic examples and what they look like. The first example of fake news is a website called theonion.com which is a parody website known for witty and clever content every day. There are many websites like these out there however, below are some of the most notable fake news examples for students to be aware of all across the world.

Incorrect or false stories

These are stories that are fabricated or made up by someone usually to sell a product or to make readers click on a website. The whole idea is to mislead students into believing what has been written which is unethical.

Half-hearted truths 

Half-true stories are very hard to discredit because they can have a mixture of both truths and made-up information. A classic example can be a reporter quoting something from a legitimate source but not providing proper context of what they said. If a student does this, they can dent their reputation and ruin their journalism career before it even gets off the ground.

Click baiting 

The art of click-baiting is very popular these days and the main purpose is to make readers click on a website link. Click baiting involves adding a misleading title to an article so that ad revenue is made by the person who owns the website. The good news is that many school students can see past clickbait articles and not take them seriously as certain information can be fact-checked by checking credible sources.

Ways to Spot Fake News for Students

Now that various types and examples of fake news for students have been covered, it is now time to look at tips and how a student can spot fake news. Using the methods below will help student spot news that is factual easily and dismiss fake information. 

A critical thinking mindset is needed 

Critical thinking is one of the most important skills one must have if one wants to go places. Having a critical mindset is one of the key ingredients when it comes to spotting fake news. When a student sees something for the first time, they can ask some key questions and be curious. Some of the key questions that need to ask include

  • When was it said?
  • How was it said?
  • Why was it said?
  • Where was it said?
  • What was said?
  • Who said it

The question mentioned above is a good place to start and gives students a clear picture of how legit a source is and opens the doors to more questions being asked.

Double-check the publishers or the sources

When a student is doing research for their paper and wants to use a particular link from a source to support their arguments, they need to double-check the URL to see who it belongs to and if it is reputable. Domain names that end with “.edu” are usually reliable because they belong to an educational institute. 

Students can also look at the mission statement of a website or its “about us” page to see how reliable they are too. Websites that is instantly recognizable by students end with “.org” or “.gov” as they are non-profit organizations or government sources respectively. If an author has left their name on a piece, a simple Google search is also a good way to validate a source.

Learn to cross-reference with other sources

Any students that want to know how legit a source is can cross-reference it with other trusted sources. If something a student is reading appears on other suspicious websites, chances are the information is very much fake and shouldn’t be trusted. 

It is important to never take most things printed out there as gospel unless they are coming from a source that is known to provide trustworthy news. If the news is legit, it can easily be confirmed by various sources but if other sources don’t have the same information or anything close to it, chances are it is fake news.

Find concrete evidence and ensure information is up-to-date

The method above is not the only way a student can check if the information is legit, one can gather evidence on their own by seeing if there is an audio file or video footage out there. Another way is to see if there are quotes out there on other websites, if there is a report or a survey on it and much more. 

We live in a world where news breaks all the time and information is published around the clock. It is easy to fall into a trap and believe everything that is out there, especially if the mainstream media are through it into students’ faces all the time. A student has to make sure that the information they are investigating is up-to-date because the last thing anyone needs is to use out-of-date information on their papers. Doing this makes content lose credibility and a student gets a low mark.

Reach out to experts

Speaking to an expert in various fields is also another way a student can spot fake news and these experts can be journalists, professors, scientists, researchers, and authority figures just to name a few. Over the last few years, there have been so many websites that help student’s fact-check any information out there. Anyone that can’t access these websites can simply speak to experts to get an unbiased opinion.

With so many social media platforms out there, anyone that wants to publish something can do so at any time. It is up to a student to be able to develop the necessary skills that will help them separate what’s true and what isn’t. Since we have been spoiled with massive technological updates in recent years, our critical thinking abilities have diminished. We are trying to keep up with these changes which tend to happen at a rapid speed. With so many students using social media regularly, it is easier for them to improve their fake new detection skills compared to many years ago.

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