These days, people are becoming more and more exposed to disinformation across the internet. Disinformation is when you’re fed false facts through any form of media, and it usually pertains to propaganda, especially on a political scale. No social media site is able to fully avoid disinformation on the internet, and that even includes messaging apps like Whatsapp.
Some of the most common ways in which disinformation is shared come from when people that you know and typically trust intentionally misguide you so that you see things their way. If you feel like you’re being tricked into falling for fake news, there are some ways to avoid it. Here are five ways on how to dodge all of the disinformation that can come from Whatsapp groups.
Always Check Sources
Some of the biggest sources of disinformation are websites that have little to no legitimacy. If you see something that’s shared from a news site that has hundreds of journalists working and checking their sources, then there’s probably a lot of weight to that story that was shared with you. Some of the most reliable sources for news include the Associated Press, BBC, C-SPAN, and The Christian Science Monitor.
These are media outlets that mostly report facts without putting their own personal spin on things. Much of the disinformation that we see in today’s day and age will come from URLs that are operated by one or two people. Sites that have names like FreedomBeliefFigtherRebel.net or something along those lines that use buzzwords are often recently-created disinformation content mills.
Know Who You’re Talking To
There are always going to be people in our lives that we love dearly, but we know that they’re susceptible to falling victim to fake news. You should familiarize yourself with the people in your network and how often they’re sharing news stories from untrusted sources. If you’ve received seemingly countless messages like that from the same people, just pretend that those links were never sent.
Instead, try to steer the topic into something that’s completely different. You may also want to inform them that they’re spreading fake news and need to check their sources. Some people only find what they want to believe, so it can be like talking to a brick wall, but it’s worth it to let someone you love know that they’re being targeted with disinformation.
Look For Satire
You may have heard of the phrase “eating the Onion” when it comes to people who fall for satire that they believe is real news. This phrase comes from the satirical news outlet The Onion, which has had headlines including “New Zealand Prime Minister Resigns Citing Burnout” or “Election to Be Decided By Whoever Can Keep Hand on White House the Longest”.
There are more and more satirical websites that are popping up each day. Sites like The Babylon Bee, ClickHole, and Topeka News are all known for their humorous headlines that can often be taken too seriously. If you see someone sharing links to websites like this, let them know immediately that it’s just satire.
Take a Break
Social media will often bombard you with a lot of news headlines on a daily basis, and sometimes it’s just best to step away for a little while and live life while you can. People can easily become addicted to reading articles, many of which can be sensationalist and fake. Disconnecting from a Whatsapp group for a few days or even permanently can be good for your health.
While you should always be connected to what’s going on in the world so that you’re well-rounded and educated, ignorance is bliss when it comes to fake news. You don’t have to avoid the internet altogether, but sticking to trusted sources and avoiding certain groups can be great for you.
Look at the Headline
Any legitimate headline will be able to tell you exactly what you’re about to read without using sensational buzzwords. If you see a headline that’s something along the lines of “BUSTED! Joe Biden’s Hidden Secrets Revealed!” or “JAIL? Donald Trump On the Verge of Being Sentenced FOR LIFE!”, avoid them at all costs.
These types of headlines only exist to get you to click on them, and in many cases, try to pander to those who only want news that they want to believe is true. On the flipside, if you see a headline that’s something like “Department of Justice Investigates Donald Trump Over Classified Documents” then it’s likely going to be an article that contains mostly facts without personal opinions.