Consciously Consuming News and Vetting for Disinformation

( – In late November, the tech website Wired provided four tips to help spot misinformation online.

According to Wired, online news consumers should make sure they are reading reputable sources. While some citizen journalism might be useful, the website warns that readers should be careful not to take the reporting at face value.

News stories should also be supported by evidence and verified by more than one source. If readers are unsure about a news site, it is smart to check the site’s history to ensure their most recent reporting matches up with what the site has posted in the past. Readers should also check the social media history of a news site to review their posting history, content, and even followers.

Wired also stresses the importance of context, particularly in news reports that include video clips that can be easily edited to omit the broader context.

Social media can help provide context to misleading reports, particularly the Community Notes feature on X, formally Twitter. The feature allows users to provide links and other sources to correct or clarify misleading posts.

According to Wired, most online disinformation follows a pattern. Once readers familiarize themselves with those patterns, they will be able to more easily spot fake news.

One thing to remember is that fake news is designed to go viral as quickly as possible, which is why it tends to be inflammatory, surprising, or shocking. The posts are designed to provoke a reaction to motivate readers to share the content.

This kind of fake news often lacks any authentic context, like a source, location, or even an accompanying link that directs readers to a full news story.

Readers should be careful to avoid posts that promote a specific cause or course of action. Wired recommends that online news consumers employ a little cynicism when reading news online.

It also recommends that in addition to consulting fact-checking services like Reuters or the Associated Press, news consumers should learn to do their own research to vet stories they see online.

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