The general election is nearing in the Philippines. Aspiring candidates vying for a government position are already on the move, and some are ready to go the extra mile to be in power. What could this mean for the Filipinos, especially the netizens? More fake news flooding your timeline! And why not? Fake news is such an effective vessel in shaping the opinion of the public towards a candidate.
At this point in time, it gets harder to weed out fake news from legit government news in the Philippines. In the 2016 election, the rise of fake news was made apparent in social media, and a repeat is to be expected again come next election—a hard truth to swallow. Troll accounts working for a candidate will be hell-bent on spreading fake news again to gain the favor of the masses. To counter this, you have to be vigilant and not fall prey to this propaganda.
Here are some ways to bust out fake news:
1. Investigate the Source. As a rule of thumb, always check the About Us page of the website where the news was published. The About Us page should give you information about the owners of the website and their contact details. If this information is not available, take it as a red flag and don’t believe every news posted on the said website.
2. Inspect the URL. Some fake news website deceive user using the guise of legit and well-known media outlets. These sites try to mimic them by near-copying the URL of said news source, even fabricatng its logo as shown below:
The example above is a fake news site using the URL gma-tv.com—an imitation of GMA News. GMA News’ only URLs are gmanetwork.com, gmanetwork.com/news, and gmanews.tv.
3. Read Beyond the Headline. Headlines from fake news follow a common pattern: exaggerated, sensationalized, and clickbait-y. It is often meant to evoke emotions from readers, usually anger that sways them to click the link. Before sharing news, read the story first and see if the body supports the headline.
4. Check the Author. Legit news has a byline, info on the person who wrote the story. Legit news authors have credible reputation and are well-versed in the art of researching. Fake news, on the other hand, may not have a byline, or the author could be hiding behind a pseudonym. If it is the latter, think twice before believing that story.
5. Look for Similar Stories. If you’re unsure of the veracity of the government news you just read, check other major news sources in the Philippines. If they carry the same story, then it may be safe to believe the said news.
6. Check the Date. The news you stumbled upon your timeline may be from a legit source, but is it recent news? Yes, even a factual news can deceive the public. Some old news are getting reshared on social media to put people in bad light, say, misusing a previous statement to create distortions of current events. Always check the date before reacting on certain news.
7. Distinguish Satire from Truth. News satire is a type of parody that often present a truth then take a twisted turn to give humor and criticism out of the story. It often uses literary devices such as hyperbole or exaggeration, highlighting the ridiculous aspect of the story. While satirical news is a literary form and doesn’t have the intention to harm, it has the potential to deceive people so be aware of it.
8. Check Your Biases. People falling for fake news often have their biases influencing their perception of truth. They’d readily believe information being spread if it is in favor of their biases. Meanwhile, they’d regard factual news as fake if they disagree with it. When deciphering fake from legit news, don’t let your biases get the better of you.
9. Ask the Experts. As the issue of mis- and disinformation threatens the country, some organizations have established a countermeasure to address the issue. Fact-checkers like Rappler’s and Vera Files’ are availabe, which in fact social media giant Facebook has partner with to battle fake news. Facebook is also open to more fact checkers in the Philippines.
With the general election nearing, more fake news are bound to haunt your social media feeds in the coming months. But with the ways above, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to distinguish fake news from legit government news in the Philippines.