#30sec before you believe it

How? Simply take a few seconds before you Like, share or comment on a news item.

30 sec to read it

• verify the Source

Examine critically

 Comprehend the purpose of the message

#30sec to read or view

Take a few seconds to click, read or view the video completely. Sometimes it may seem true when you only read the title. Clicking lets us:

• understand clearly what is involved.

• recover from our emotional reaction.

• think about what we have just read.

For example, news from The Onion: If you click on it, you realize that the news in this publication is all satirical. I don’t share it before clicking on it. Clicking takes me to the Journal de Mourréal website and I see immediately that this is a satirical site. In addition, their warning mentioned that this content is not intended for “people in a hurry”. We agree!

The same for the news item: “Hells Angels demonstrate against legalization of cannabis”. If I see this information on social media, I don’t share it before clicking on it. Clicking takes me to the Journal de Mourréal website and I see immediately that this is a satirical site. In addition, their warning mentioned that this content is not intended for “people in a hurry”. We agree!

#30sec to verify the source

What type of website is it? Is it a known or unknown medium? Serious or not? For example, Journal de Mourréal is a satirical site. Here’s a tip: Would I consult this medium for my school research? No? Then I don’t share it!

Beware of personal pages

For example, this publication claims that a shark was swimming on a North Carolina highway after floods. This picture circulates on social media whenever there is a hurricane or a major flood in the United States. It’s obviously fake, but many people fall for it and tens of thousands of interactions are generated! Yet this post comes from a personal page, without an official source, never picked up by traditional newspapers, and articles exist on the Web proving that it is fake news.

 

Beware of unsigned and undated articles

Is the article signed? Who is the author? Is it a journalist, an expert, a specialist? Is the article dated? If the article is neither signed nor dated, these are good clues that give you reason to believe it is fake news.

Watch out for the information bar

In this example, we see that the bar at the top of the page indicates only “Home” and “Shocking”. This isn’t a good sign. Normally there should be information: “About Us”, the name of the newspaper and various tabs.

Sometimes fake news is very elaborate

For example, this article: “Sidney Crosby faces questions as investigation begins” supposedly comes from the ESPN news network. According to the article, the National Hockey League (NHL) is investigating the young hockey player because he uses a nutritional supplement that would give him an unfair advantage. According to this article, the NHL was on the verge of banning the supplement in question.

However, there is a small problem with this article: it doesn’t come from the ESPN site. Side by side, the two sites resemble each other. But if we look at the URL, we realize fairly quickly that something isn’t right. In this case, the site is “revolutionbreak.com”.

If the URL doesn’t match, it’s shady. And if we go to the article, regardless of where we click, an Alpha Force ad appears. Even if we click on the name of the journalist who wrote the article, this ad appears. So watch out – they want to sell us something!

Watch out for the URL

When you look at the URL, you discover it is actualite.co. Often URLs that end with “co” refer to fake news sites. The real address of L’Actualité magazine is “lactualite.com”. When you click on the “accueil” (home) icon, it takes you to “Crée ta blague rapidement” (Create your joke fast).

Do an additional search

If I want to ensure that the news about the accident caused by Pokémon Go, published by Cartel Press, is a true story, I can check who Cartel Press is. In this case, the URL changes to www.huzlers.com. Not a good sign! Especially since Huzlers is a fake news site. Most of the items are satirical, but some are designed to stir up strong emotional responses. The site collects Likes, comments and shares. It makes money. So it’s worth the trouble to do an additional search and go look on Huzlers. This is fast and I see right away that it isn’t serious. It prevents me from sharing fake news.

The BBC, which published the news about the teenage girl who stumbled on a corpse, is a very well-known British media outlet. If I don’t know this, I can run a search on this medium. I find a serious site, with an “About Us” tab, signed and dated articles, etc. This is the case for all the real media that provide information on their website and social media. See the Québec example.

All this doesn’t take much time. However, if I don’t take time to validate the source’s credibility, it’s better not to believe it and share another story.

#30sec to examine critically

Is this information a proven and verifiable fact? Is it just a rumour, a personal opinion, an allegation or a testimonial? For example, Noémie Dufresne’s testimonial for “Tea Tox” isn’t proof. Does the author give scientific or validated explanations? For example: Noémie Dufresne doesn’t provide any explanation about “Tea Tox”.

If this is an opinion, is this person a specialist in the field or has she spoken to people who know the subject, to experts and specialists? For example: The woman who ate bananas for 12 days is not a physician, a pharmacist or a nutritionist. If the news item is supposed to be scientific (health, nutrition, etc.), does it cite a study? If it does, is this study published in a scientific journal? In the two previous examples, no scientific studies are cited.

#30sec to understand the purpose of the message

Do I learn something? Does it help me understand the world? Is it trying to make me afraid or angry, manipulate me or sell me something?