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How to spot fake news?

Here are some tips for detecting false information online.

  • Adopt a critical mind
  • Don't stop at the title
  • Check the author of the post
  • Don't confuse notoriety with reliability
  • Beware of hoaxes
  • Take an interest in the medium of distribution 
  • Use a fact-checking solution

Here are the points of vigilance that we will address throughout this article because fake news is as old as information. In a previous article, Buster.Ai proposed a method to verify the latter. Faced with the massive flows we are confronted with every day, knowing how to quickly identify false information has become a real must. Buster.Ai offers you a method to achieve this.

“Have the cult of the critical mind”

The preliminary step to any interaction with information is to place oneself in a certain skepticism to take height on the statements that reach us. It is a matter of adopting a critical state of mind, which is indispensable in any fact-checking process. If it is not enough to identify or confirm false information, the distance it offers allows us to fight effectively against our cognitive biases, which can make us believe in falsehood, despite any verification. 

For example, a certain number of rumors come back regularly on social networks, despite the multiple verifications made by organizations such as Buster.Ai. They are designed to make an impression, create engagement, sharing, and are automatically boosted by the algorithms of social networks. Let's not forget that false information spreads much faster than true information, from 6 to 7 times, and denials, and rights of reply, often remain unheard. As Oihab Allal-Chérif, professor of information systems, explains, "institutional and malicious conspiracy theories are taken up by those who believe in them, who interpret them, make them evolve, combine them, and relay them in different forms. This is an "uberization" of fake news where everyone becomes a consumer, producer, and distributor at the same time. In a world in which everyone thinks they are an expert and a victim of cognitive bias, everyone thinks they must alert others to what they have discovered or understood and that occult forces would hide from us.

What are the reflexes to adopt to spot fake news?

Never stop at the title

Provocative headlines are meant to grab your attention and leave a mark on your mind. This process is a common denominator for articles that spread dubious information to get a quick engagement, such as a like or a share. Before doing so, it is essential not only to read the article but also to be interested in its author and the details surrounding it. For example, the date of publication or the relevance of the illustration image can be noted. In the first case, you can quickly detect a deception that has been recycled. In the second case, the use of an image out of context can be proof of an attempt to deceive or, in the best case, to exaggerate the importance of the message.

Check who is behind the information 

This is an inescapable question when it comes to information. The authors of serious articles, who do factual work, sign their papers, distribute them through recognized channels and share their sources, even their methodologies. If the presence of a name is not a guarantee of veracity, its absence constitutes a major alert. A simple reflex to adopt, whether for the title or the author, is to google to quickly obtain contextual elements. Tools such as the one developed by Buster.Ai, allow us to obtain context elements from millions of sources. The title is a query that Buster.Ai's algorithms can verify and populate in seconds. 

Don't confuse notoriety with reliability to verify information

The fact that a piece of information is disseminated by a public figure, such as an opinion leader, politician, or business leader, does not automatically make it true. For example, according to a study conducted by the Reuters Institute at Oxford University, 20% of false information about Covid-19 comes from public figures, accounting for 69% of total engagement on social networks. Like any individual, public figures have their own biases and even their allegiances that they wish to defend in public opinion.

Beware of hoaxes

If not all of them are presented as real information, since the numerous parody sites that make up the media landscape identify their articles as satirical, they can constitute cases of misinformation when they are taken up by people who do not take the time to verify their veracity.  In this respect, we have seen French politicians quote articles from Le Gorafi, a newspaper notorious for its humorous and satirical parody articles, on television shows with the utmost seriousness. Once again, bias favors the massive diffusion of hoaxes, which algorithms reinforce. 

Take an interest in the medium

Disinformers play the card of confusion when they imitate or use the codes of official organizations or recognized media. In this sense, 72% of French people say that it is more and more difficult to distinguish serious media sites, which publish real information, from sites publishing partially or totally false and unverified information. To fight against this phenomenon, it is useful to check the URLs, the authenticity of the sites as well as their relevance. Indeed, thanks to digital developments, it is relatively easy to create a site whose name evokes that of an official organization. For example, in 2016, forgers imitated the ABC News site to spread intox. The URL of the site, abcnews.com.co, was able to mislead the less informed or cautious public. Moreover, similar processes were used by Russian hackers, during the year 2022, to impersonate about 60 European media. 

Use an automated solution to check information

In the fight against the spread of false information, many solutions have been developed. For example, Buster.Ai has developed a tool capable of verifying thousands of requests per day. Thanks to the API connection, this process is fully automated and can be integrated directly into your systems. The algorithms, developed in deep learning, perform semantic analysis on millions of sources that cover the entire spectrum of information (press articles, academic and scientific reports, tabular data, etc.) to propose a verdict that refutes or confirms the initial request, enriched with the most relevant passages. With Buster.Ai's productivity-enhancing solutions, you can proactively address misinformation, assess the veracity of content, and make informed choices to strengthen your organization's performance while protecting it. 

Contact us to learn more about implementing our fact-checking solution in your organization, and to discuss use cases and your needs.