Fake News in 5 Points or Less

A few days ago, a friend of mine had shared this article on Facebook:

From my training it very clearly tells me it’s fake. Here’s a simplified way you tell fake news the next time you come across a similar article.

  1. It’s just a bit too shocking or terrible to be news.
    Logically, how would kidnapping at our border which they make out to be so widespread happen without anyone else finding out about it? And why would social media and The Coverage learn about it before anyone else does? By ‘anyone else’ here, I’m talking about authorities like the police, and mainstream media, which are your published newspapers, reputable online news portals such as Malaysiakini, all of your TV stations, etc.

    Newspapers, portals, or channels will always report something that you would find interesting. If you’d been interested enough to click it on The Coverage, why didn’t The Star or Malaysiakini report it?

    Cos the story is all a lie. It isn’t true. The first image they used is actually from a chemical attack on Syria in 2013 (warning: graphic video). The lazy “journalist” didn’t bother googling the image. That’s all I had to do to find out it wasn’t true and I’m not even getting paid!

    You can reverse-search an image by simply clicking and dragging any image onto Google’s search engine which would tell you where else the image has been used on the internet.

  2. They probably used clickbait.
    Shocking!!! You won’t believe why… (click to read more!)

    Clickbait is having a very misleading or dramatic picture, title, or excerpt to make people click. Once you get hooked and read the entire thing, you’d see another similar catchy title and read the second article before you even realise the first article’s title and picture was irrelevant to the content. Or at least it won’t be what you assumed based on the title and image.

    If it was so shocking, the content would speak for itself. But since it’s in the title, it probably wasn’t. They just wanted you to get on their website, and clickbait sites don’t care how they got you on there.

  3. There’s absolutely no sources.
    Surprise! The lazy article above says at the end of it, in only a single line at the bottom of an advertisement, “The Coverage are unable to verify the claims nor the origins of these images”. Why were they “unable” to verify them? They have Google, no?

    Also where did the images and story come from? Your “reporter” is just a screenname – not even an actual real name. Honestly, I’d feel better if the writer’s “name” was a fake one like Chao Ah Beng and not “thecinnaboy”.

    Looking at the website itself, it says on its About page that it’s a social media-based news site that covers viral news and human interest stories. It further goes on to say how “content should not be serious”. That might be a harmless stance on non-serious news if it’s a lifestyle magazine or an opinion blog, but it’s presenting news stories to you in a manner that seems like they’re real, with people in the story like an unidentified “Goh”.

    If The Coverage were honest about what the piece of news above is, they’d have placed the caveat about its supposedly ‘unverifiable’ source at the beginning where everyone would read it first. They would not have placed the caveat in the end, after an advertisement when we’ve all stopped reading.

    That tells me that it was either a lazy article or they did know it was untrue but posted it anyway for the views (which generates income for their website through advertisements). If the second is the case, then it casts doubt on every other article they have on their site – how far would they go for views and revenue?

    The fact that the source of the image was so easily verifiable through Google (try it yourself!) really drives the point home that The Coverage most likely posted this (and many other) fake news for the views. And it works.

  4. What’s so wrong with fake news?
    That’s pretty straightforward. You spread panic for no good reason. It’s irresponsible of both this news portal, and you, when you share it.

    The use of an image of the dead Syrian children who suffered from the chemical attacks in fake news is just wrong on so many levels. It’s lying about what the picture is. It’s these fake news portals making money off the Syrian children’s tragedy in a way that doesn’t bring awareness to their suffering or the Syrian refugee crisis.

Maybe the next time you come across an article about how mobile phones, microwaves and onions are evil, can cause cancer and kill you, you could apply these points first before you assume they’re true and share it with all your friends (and daughter).

Snopes has a list of fake news sites (and reasons why they’re fake news) you should check out! They are also a great place to verify fake news, such as this one about evil onions.

Photo credit: College Humor


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