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Tuesday, January 24, 2017
I am by no means an expert on what is or isn't fake news. I just have an insatiable need for the truth and am in the constant pursuit of it. The process that I go about checking news articles is rather arduous and consumes precious time that I could use towards my other writing projects. I have received many requests to look at a news article and check it for them. I do not have the time and recently the energy to vet every news article that comes across my desk. So this week's article is to put the power back into your hands. Once again, I am no expert, and this is what I do. It may not be a good fit for you, and you may not agree with it. This my opinion and you are welcome to comment; CONSTRUCTIVELY.


The most frustrating phrase I hear is "I saw this on Facebook."  I can not count how many times a day I get emails, messages, or have conversations that end or start with that phrase.

First off, Facebook is a social media site, not the Associated Press.  If you are getting your news from Facebook then you are grossly misinformed. Facebook is full of fake news, Satire, and click bait. What is click bait? Click bait is a link that contains a headline that preys on your curiosity provoking to your read more. The issue is that link you just clicked on just funded the website owner.

Second, the underlying code of Facebook is a sophisticated algorithm that calculates each user likes and dislikes. If you follow me on Facebook that is why I do not hit that like button very much. It clutters up my feed with extraneous crap I don't want to see. If you follow particular groups, fan pages, etc.; it will show you more based on those like buttons.

My advice? Leave Facebook for what it is initially intended, a social platform. Sure, you can get bonafide news from it, but it is few and far between.

But you can't trust network news.

You are right, mainstream media has done a piss poor job at informing the public. I feel that they are in the mode of ratings rather than informing the public. Remember the Dakota pipeline? Mainstream media barely brushed the surface, but it was viral around social media.

Here are some tips on how to recognize and scroll by fake news.

1. Beware of your bias.
We like to hear and read articles that validate our belief system and find it difficult to stomach those that are not. A meme or a viral headline aligns with your view doesn't make it true. Click bait preys on this tactic. The article based on a fact, then twisted so that it will appeal to a focused group.
For instance, a couple of weeks ago an article went viral stating that Steve Harvey picked to join President Trumps Administration.
The truth is Steve Harvey met with Trump before the inauguration to discuss housing and education for inner city kids, NOT about Steve's recruitment for the Trump administration.

2. Look at the headline.
If the headline reads "Your not going to believe the @$#! that...
You can bet your Monday panties that the news story is fake. Headlines that use profanity or shock tactics are most likely click bait. Personally, I don't want to fund these news fakers so let's not, Ok?

2. Look at the domain name.
On Facebook and other social media under the headline in small gray letters will be the domain name. Most of the time you can tell if it is fake just by the name. For instance, addictingnews.com posted the Steve Harvey article that I mentioned above. This site is notorious for fake and sensationalized news.

3. Unsure about a domain name? Type it manually into a browser.
If the domain appears to be legit, I highly suggest you open up a fresh browser window (Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox.) and manually type the website into your address bar. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK; you will be funding these fakers!
Take a look at the articles on the home page. If the home page filled with celebrities, who they are fornicating with, and are full of penis enlargement advertisements, move on.
If it looks reputable, look for an about page. The about page will be clear and concise. Giving you information about who they are affiliated with, names of their contributors, and authors.
Then I highly suggest you google the writers.

4. If you are still unsure, consult the experts.
This part takes some time. I am very selfish with mine and have a few go-to's to help with this process. Factcheck.org, Snopes.com, and politifact.com are my go to sites to quickly vet stories. If you can't find the headline you are after, each website above has a beautiful contact form to submit a story for fact checking.
As I said above in number 3, Go directly to these sites and read the about page. You will see why I chose them.

5. Know the difference between Op-ed, and news.
Op-ed is short for opposite the editorial page or as some have come to believe opinion articles. Mostly published in newspapers, but more recently they popped up online. Op-eds are designed to offer another position, written by those that are an expert on a particular subject, and offer to educate members of the public.
In my opinion, reading op-eds; even those of a different viewpoint give me a better understanding as to the why's of a particular aspect.

6. Remember there is no such thing as unbiased news.
As a writer, it is tough not to insert my personal bias into an article. The human element will be apparent. However, I have found a few sites that do a good job at keeping their personal bias out of the articles.

The Real News Network
The Independent

I invite you to go to each of the site listed above and vet them for yourself. If you have another location that you deem to have reliable information feel free to put it in the comments section.

Have a great week, and if you found this helpful feel free to share it with your friends.