Identifying misinformation online is easier than you think. Correcting the misinformation is the hard part. This is where we come in. Here’s how you can identify and protect yourself from misinformation.
Seven ways to spot misinformation and disinformation online.
- Profanity. Reputable sources do not use profanity. If the article contains profanity it is likely that the content has misinformation. Also, highly opinionated and emotionally triggering language meant to create a response from the reader can also contain misinformation or have a layer of disinformation.
- Misspellings. Spelling and grammatical errors are a good indication that what you are reading could be misinformation or disinformation. News outlets have a team of editors. Content that has not been proofed for misspellings has most likely not been fact-checked.
- Digital Media. Does the article contain viral memes? How about emojis? What about an adorable puppy? While seemingly innocuous memes, emojis, and adorable baby animals encourage sharing and the reader will often share without thinking more about the message.
- References. Undocumented claims and articles without references are just opinions. Articles without references have a greater frequency of plagiarism.
- Anonymous Source. Was the article published anonymously? Why was the author’s name missing? Have you read the same exact article on different websites? These are all signs that the source of the content has not been established and is not trustworthy.
- Insecure Content. Is the website secure and begin with HTTPS? Did you know that content that appears on an HTTP connection has a greater chance of being misinformation?
- Publish Date. Verify when the article was first published. Is the publish date a future date? Was the article republished under a new date? How many times was the article modified after it was published? These are all signs that the article may be inaccurate.