It was a very interesting election season: Denzel Washington supported Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS, Hillary was disqualified from holding federal office…
During this election season, Facebook came face-to-face with a long-known media plague–fake news.
Dozens and dozens of misleading stories about the election and statistics went viral on the platform in the “trending” section. In fact, these stories were considered more popular and received more engagement than true, accurate articles.
Even Google’s search fell prey to the allure of a falsehood.
Legacy news brands are the best way to fight the plague. Journalists have managed to be the purveyors of truth for centuries.
I recommend Facebook boosts news from established sources, instead of only promoting popular, viral, unverified headlines.
Four Ways to Fight Fake News:
1. Double-Check Your Sources: I know, it’s so tempting to click the ‘share’ button after reading an especially titillating headline. However, the URL at the bottom of the post can be especially telling. If it is from a source you’ve never heard of before, it’s worth double checking.
2. Report False Stories: Report the story on Facebook if it turns out to be false. Preventing the story from spreading will help tide it from going viral.
3. Correct Inaccuracies: If you fell for the trap of spreading fake news, make sure to publicly denounce it. On Facebook, edit your original post admitting your mistake so others don’t fall prey to the same grabby headline. On Twitter, RT your original post with a quote, debunking the site for all. Or simply delete the post from your page.
4. Buy a Print or Digital Newspaper Subscription: Legacy news outlets have trained reporters, working hard to get correct, timely and unbiased information out. Newspapers saw a bump in subscriptions following the election, and it’s a trend I hope to see continue.
David Chavern is CEO of the Newspaper Association of America.