How to spot fake news on Whatsapp

July 18, 2018

This photo illustration shows an Indian newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full back page advertisement from WhatsApp intended to counter fake information, in New Delhi on July 10, 2018. Photo: AFP

Have you ever received a message on Whatsapp about how eating this one plant can cure cancer? How about a message on a politician being part of an Israeli-run organisation that aims to take over the world? You must have received the one about the breathing tip that will help you live till 100.

No? Well, you’re one of the few people who haven’t been plagued by fake news. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and sometimes, gullible friends often forward messages on Whatsapp that turn out to be fake but by the time they realise, the damage has been done.

It seems the people who run Whatsapp have clued in to the fact that the messaging service is used to spread fake news and want to help people know how to recognise fake news.

After taking out ads in major newspapers in India, Whatsapp did the same in Pakistan on July 18.

Here are 10 steps to fight fake news:

  1. Know when a message has been forwarded

Whatsapp has a new feature letting you know if a message has been forwarded or not

  1. Check information that seems fake

Just because the information has been sent to you, doesn’t mean it’s true

  1. Take a good look at photos

Sometimes, people send edited images on Whatsapp. It’s easy to trick people by using editing software. Sometimes, photos are real but the stories aren’t

  1. Always double check

Check other news websites to see if the story has been reported elsewhere. If it’s on a reputable site, it’s more likely to be true

  1. Question information sent to you

If you read something that makes you angry or afraid, ask if it was shared with you to make you feel that way. If the answer is yes, then think twice before sharing it again

  1. Spot spelling errors

Messages with fake news or hoaxes often have spelling mistakes. If you see a major mistake in a message, it may just be fake. But that doesn’t mean that all fake news has spelling mistakes

  1. Check the links

If someone sends you a link to a well-known website that has spelling mistakes or other errors, it may be a fake site

  1. Be careful about what you share

If you aren’t sure about where the news came from or think it may be fake, don’t share it

  1. Fake news can go viral

Just because you received the same message 10 times doesn’t make it true

  1. You control what you see

If you don’t like the messages you’re getting, block the person. You also have the option of leaving groups on Whatsapp, you don’t have to

 
 

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