Combat fake news: check sources

Recent college graduate Cameron Harris needed cash, and he needed it now. He bought an abandoned website domain for five dollars and crafted an entire website dedicated to fake news.

The first article was based off a quote from now President Trump when he said the election must be rigged because his support was declining. Harris took five minutes to create a story about the fictitious Randall Prince, a Trump supporter and electrical worker from Columbus. Supposedly, Prince stumbled upon thousands of ballots pre-marked for Clinton. The article accused the Clinton campaign of planting them for use on election day, just a week later.

This isn’t the only case of so called fake news circulating the country—and it certainly won’t be the last. With this election specifically, fake news stories inundated social media. Different sites claiming to be reputable drew readers in with flashy headlines. It didn’t take long for red flags to pop up.

Once readers became aware that fake news was a major issue, they started to question the morals of the media surrounding them.

The public has become more skeptical of the things they read and with good reason. Not only is the threat of fake news ever apparent, but people shouldn’t assume that everything they hear or read about is true. The basis of journalism is providing unbiased information, or making it clear that an article contains opinion, but there are always going to be publications that lean more left than right, and there are always going to be publications that spread false news for the sake of exposure.

There is a way to combat this issue. Fake news will never disappear, but there are ways to protect yourself as a news consumer from the deceitful sites. CNN published a helpful check list to weed out the fake news sites from the real ones:

• The first tip was to look at the URL. An additional “.co” or “.su” added to the end of a seemingly reputable website should make a reader skeptical, as well as a publication that doesn’t have its own website. If it needs a third party host like WordPress, it’s probably not a good source.

• An obvious fact is that the headline should match the article—don’t be that guy that shares an article without reading it. Be wary of satire sites, like the Onion, as well. That is, unless you’re sharing it because it’s a hilarious take on Trump’s first 100 days, then by all means; we all need a good laugh. Just know exactly what you’re sharing before you share.

• Check the date. Old news stories can be twisted to make them seem new or recent. For example, a blogsite said Ford moved some productions from Mexico to Ohio because Trump won the presidency. The company actually made the move a year before he became president.

• Make sure quotes, photos and videos aren’t taken out of context and can be traced back to the original source. There was a quote by Trump circulating that claimed to be from a People magazine interview in 1998 saying that if he ran for President, he would run as a republican because they are less intelligent voters. The quote was nowhere to be found in People’s archives.

• Perhaps the most important aspect to debunking fake news is the primary source. All articles written by reputable reporters should have a trail. It shouldn’t be the only publication reporting on the topic because it needs to lead back to an original source.

If you can find that primary source, and there are no other red flags from the website, then the article is probably good.

It’s still a good idea to follow the publications with good reputations and long track records of good reporting, just to be safe.