How Can You Be Sure You’re Sharing “Real” News?
Fake news is a huge buzzword right now. It’s so popular that CBS and 60 Minutes recently ran a story on the subject and major news media outlets are spending a lot of time covering its rise. But how can you be sure that the content you’re curating and sharing on social media is real?
What is Fake News?
What is fake news? You’ve heard the term – perhaps even used it yourself – but what exactly does it refer to? Generally speaking, fake news is some sort of published content that’s designed to provide disinformation for profit, political gain, or crime. It could also be argued that viral pranks represent fake news. Fake news is not satirical reporting from news sites, honest report mistakes, or journalism you don’t like.
The problem, as you may recognize, is that the line between fake and real news isn’t always crystal clear. While it’s pretty easy for most people to postulate and verify that a story about a half-human, half-dog created in South Africa is fake, it’s not always as easy to know that a story about what Donald Trump said at a fictional press conference in D.C. is totally made up.
And the problem is that the waters are being muddied with political bias. Many right-wing websites freely use the term “fake news” to stifle stories that they don’t like. And then there’s the issue with Snopes, a website that was designed to debunk myths and fake news many years ago. The only problem is that the company’s lead political “fact-checker” is a notorious liberal editor known for publishing fake news on her sites and using her perceived position of authority to push her own beliefs and agendas.
So, not only is there fake news circulating online, but the supposed fact-checkers are relying on their own biases and agendas to decide what counts as fake and what can be genuine (independent of facts).
3 Sharing Rules You Can Abide By
Clearly, we have a problem. And from a branding perspective, you have to be careful with the content you curate and share on social media. Without even realizing it, you could easily end up aligning your brand with a fake story or source (not a good look).
While there isn’t a foolproof method for keeping your nose clean, here are a few rules that should help you stay above reproach.
1. Be Your Own Fact-Checker
You can’t trust fact-checking websites any more. Sites like Snopes clearly have biases and you have to do your own research. If you question something, find reliable sites and dig around.
For example, if you were posting something on auto loan rates for your customers, you wouldn’t want to rely on one lender’s facts and figures. They’re too easy to manipulate. Instead, you’d want to find an objective third party – like Auto.Loan – to verify information. See the difference? One site has a reason to skew the data for selfish gain, while the other doesn’t.
2. Validate or Pass
It may be annoying, but you have to be meticulous with every link, article, or video that you share on social media. If you can’t validate it, then you have to take a pass. There’s simply too much to risk and not enough to gain from taking a chance on an ambiguous piece of content.
3. Publish Real News
Finally, the best way to do away with fake news is to suppress it and overwhelm it with real news. If you see fake news stories, develop your own content that’s irrefutable and well sourced. People are smart and will recognize, share, and validate real news.
Putting it All Together
You don’t want to get caught sharing fake news. Even if it’s a total accident, being involved in a fake news situation isn’t a good look for your brand. Use these three rules to stay clear.