Fake News – Fact Checking the Internet

The internet is a powerful tool for conducting valuable research and obtaining news. It is also, unfortunately, a repository for some of the most awful misinformation and lies. In this era of fake news, how does one discern fact from fiction?

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    Fake News – Fact Checking the Internet

    Fake News – Fact Checking the Internet

    The internet is a powerful tool for conducting valuable research and obtaining news. It is also, unfortunately, a repository for some of the most awful misinformation and lies. In this era of fake news, how does one discern fact from fiction?

    Mark Twain famously observed, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Twain couldn’t have anticipated social media and just how prophetic his witticism would become. According to research by MIT, false information travels six times faster on Twitter than the truth—an unsurprising statistic, especially since they also found that fake news stories are 70% more likely to be retweeted than true stories.1

    Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

    News hoaxes can be mildly amusing:

    • Lie—Lions are prowling a Russian city to enforce stay-at-home rules.
    • Truth—It was a photo from an old movie shoot.

    … or harmful and destructive:

    • Lie—A post on social media claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed testing thresholds to eliminate COVID-19 cases among those who have been vaccinated.
    • Truth—In fact, the threshold applies to whether there is enough virus within a sample to qualify for additional analysis.

    Between clickbait clogging up your social feeds to bots deployed by those with less-than-ethical agendas, surfing the internet today is like a scene right out of the classic film “Gaslight.” Unlike Ingrid Bergman’s deluded character, there are a numbers of ways you can avoid getting pulled into the vortex of viral lies and misinformation.

    The first step is to take a breath. If a post evokes strong emotions of anger, fear or amazement, it pays to ask yourself if this can really be true.

    The next step is to head over to sites dedicated to identifying fake news and misinformation, such as Snopes.com, Hoaxslayer.com or Factcheck.org.

    If these sites do not reference the story you’re reading, then check out the source(s). Are they legitimate? Are they satirical by design? Even global leaders have been fooled by stories in The Onion, a satirical news site produced by humorists as entertainment—not credible information.

    You can also check the writer’s social media accounts. If he or she has a history of writing about government cover-ups of alien contact, the story you’re reading about is likely to be unreliable.

    You may want to see if other outlets are reporting it. If the post you’re reading is the only site reporting a new treatment for COVID-19, it’s probably fake news.

    Beware of Investment Scams, Too

    The power to reach millions has also attracted fraudsters looking to separate money from your clients. Internet chat rooms, online newsletters and so-called “high-yield investment programs” are regularly cheating Americans out of their hard-earned wealth. Just because some may advertise on legitimate financial websites, it doesn’t make them any less a fraud. Be forewarned—clickbait is everywhere.

    Financial advisors can play an important role in educating their clients about the investment scams that swirl around the internet by using their array of client communication tools to highlight the deceptive practices used to market fraudulent investment offers.

    Source:

    1. https://news.mit.edu/2018/study-twitter-false-news-travels-faster-true-stories-0308

    Please reference disclosures: https://blog.americanportfolios.com/disclosures/

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