Social Media and Fake News
At its genesis, social media was hailed as a game changer - a new medium through which the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression took place in virtual communities and networks.
Perhaps social media has been too successful at transmitting information – fast forward to 2017, and the ease of sharing information has has become not all that positive. The sheer volume of information stored online has raised the spectre of poor quality information, causing some to lament that we live in a “post truth era” where social media has turned into a swamp of fake news filled with misinformation and dubious claims.
Fake News in Singapore
On 11 November 2016, news and pictures began circulating among netizens, claiming that the rooftop of Punggol Waterway Terraces had collapsed. The "news" was serious enough that police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force were dispatched to the scene, only to confirm that the incident was a false alarm. Highlighting the seriousness of fake news, the Housing and Development Board said it would inform the police about the hoax. Here
As technology continues to advance, and social media becomes increasingly inseparable part of our everyday lives, becoming responsible,
It is thus important to know how to spot fake news, and not contribute to its spread. Here's how!
Spotting Fake News:
- Be distrustful of headlines – especially ones that sound like clickbait. Often, fake news stories have catchy headlines that draw your attention and pull you in.
- Take note of the URL. A URL that might have misspelled words that are easily missed might be a warning sign of fake news.
- Question the writer of the story. Does the writer have a hidden agenda associated with the organization he is working for? Or is he and his organization generally known for accurate reporting?
- Check for unusual, irregular formatting. Many false news websites ostensibly have awkward layouts and misspellings from careless and unedited work.
- Consider the evidence the writer has used – does his source sound dubious? Give little credit to writers that use weak evidence or are overly speculative.
- Is the article meant as a joke? Some “news” websites such as New Nation write satirical news articles that at a glance might appear to be real news.