From health news to financial advice, there is a lot of fake news around. Even the most astute reader can fall victim. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you are getting the right information – and from a reliable source.
The only thing spreading faster than the coronavirus at the moment is the misinformation surrounding it. From overhyped news stories to outright falsehoods spread seemingly just for the fun of it, it can be difficult to separate the fact from fiction – and it is causing some very real problems.
Who is to blame?
The answer to that may be difficult: it’s your fault. Or, it’s my fault. Or, it’s all our fault. We can only be fed the stories we choose to consume. So if we want our news to be accurate, balanced and truthful, we have to seek it out. And we have to be committed to sharing news that fits these criteria.
What can you do?
In a nutshell, we all need to be more careful. The Digital News Report: Australia 2019 found that the majority of Australian adults use fewer sources to access news, are more likely to subscribe to Netflix than news, and are less likely to check the accuracy of a story.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure your news is not the fake kind.
1. Look past the headline
The people writing real news have two goals – to give the public truthful balanced news and to have that news read. The people writing fake news have one goal – to have that news read. One sure way to have your story seen and shared is to give it a sensational headline that is likely to grab attention. And too many of us are believing and sharing these stories without looking deeper. Next time a headline grabs your attention, dig deeper: read the whole thing before reacting. You may find that the headline has very little to do with the story.
2. Who is it coming from?
A lot of work goes into the fake news business. When you click on a story that appears in your social media feed or email inbox, you may be directed to a site that looks immediately untrustworthy, or it may mimic that of a real news site. Go to the About Us section of the website to learn a little more about just who is feeding you this story. Check the author’s name and look at previous stories they have written.
3. What, when and who?
Check the time and date of the story to ensure it is not an old story being pushed around again. Also, check the people quoted in the story – are they reliable sources such as professors or industry experts, or is it a bunch of comments grabbed from social media presented as ‘public opinion’? Any studies that have been referenced should be sourced in the form of links – click on those and make sure they are reliable.
4. Check your own confirmation bias
We are often drawn to stories and news outlets that simply reinforce the way we see the world. Fake news creators know this and they write their copy designed to stir our emotions and prey on our own bias. Check that you, and those sharing news with you, are not falling into their own bias.
5. See who else is reporting the same story
A single article from just one news source should arouse suspicion. If it is a genuine story, the major outlets will also be reporting on it. A good rule of thumb is to check three news sites that you trust before you believe any given news story. If you still aren’t sure, you can check sites such as www.snopes.com which exposes hoaxes and fake news.
6. When it comes to financial advice, be extra vigilant
It is particularly important to check where financial advice and news is coming from. There are plenty of people with little or no training or experience presenting questionable advice to an unsuspecting audience. As your financial specialist, we pride ourselves on our training, experience and accreditation. When you are seeking financial information, always check if a financial advisor is registered via the ASIC website. Any business or person that offers or advises you about financial products must be an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence holder.
You can trust us to provide you with intelligent, genuine and trustworthy information designed to keep you up to date and informed.