We must be more critical when it comes to informing ourselves

Some tips to identify fake news and prevent a media outlet from manipulating you

Although the Internet allows us to compare news more quickly than ever, fake news spreads everywhere. Some are even propagated by traditional media that presume to be truthful.

Some people believe that the mere fact of having seen a news item in a medium of certain relevance is enough to consider it true. It is not like this. In fact, you can see an advertisement like this in quite a few media in Spanish:

This does not guarantee that information is true. Quite a few media outlets that carry this seal skip it daily the quality indicators of said project. So how do you know if a news story tells the truth? Many times readers do not have direct access to sources and that makes it difficult to know what is true in what we read. However, there are some issues that can help us detect possible fake news. It goes without saying that this is applicable to any website that communicates information, starting with this one.

1. Beware of anonymous sources

Traditional journalism has sacralized the anonymity of sources. This anonymity is more than justified when the source of a news story is a person whose safety may be seriously threatened. However, many media outlets often abuse anonymous sources, even appealing to them to invent news. Expressions such as "sources of complete solvency" or "sources close to..." are often used to abuse the reader's trust. In political journalism, the use of anonymous sources has spread to attack people or organizations that do not coincide with the media's editorial line with rumors or falsehoods. When you read shocking news, search the text What are the sources of the information. If they are anonymous or it is not even indicated where that information was obtained, do not simply believe what you read.

2. Search for documentary sources of information

In many cases, information has its origin in a document that is available on the Internet. However, many media only cite from these documents what interests them, without giving their readers the opportunity to check the rest. On the Internet, the excuse that existed in traditional media (press, radio, television) to not give access to those sources. On this blog I have the habit of offering my readers links to documentary sources whenever possible. It is a healthy habit that spread among blogs and among native Internet media years ago, but whether due to laziness or other reasons, many websites have been losing that habit. If you have doubts about information, look for the original document or ask the media. Many media have the documents they cite but do not publish them.

3. Reject the "diabolical tests"

It is sad to have to remember it, but the fact that a person or a group does not deny information does not make it true; It can also mean that the person or group in question does not have the desire, time or means to deny all the falsehoods attributed to them. In Justice there is a basic principle: the burden of proof falls on the person who makes an accusation, not on the accused. If a journalist accuses someone, it is not the accused who must prove the falsehood. of the accusation: it is the journalist who has to prove that it is true. Unfortunately, many journalists have become accustomed to the so-called "diabolical proof": that it is the accused who has to prove the falsehood of an accusation without evidence. A purely totalitarian method that is used to damage many reputations from the media.

4. Distinguish information from opinion

Many traditional media claim to separate opinion from information, but this is not true. Often the news that appears in the media is full of elements that express the opinion of the author of the text, something completely legitimate, of course. The problem arises when this is used to stigmatize the opposite, for example, describing as "extreme right" people or parties with liberal or conservative ideology, calling "homophobic" anyone who does not coincide with the gender ideology or labeling as "sexist" to anyone who disagrees with leftist feminism. I believe that a journalist has every right to mix opinion and information, and readers must have a critical vision to distinguish them. When a progressive newspaper calls some Catholics "ultra-Catholics" it is exercising its right to give an opinion and to portray oneself with that ideological position, and readers have the right to point out that this is not information, but rather the opinion of the journalist or the media. One way to check if that opinion is flawed and biased is to check the treatment that the media gives to other people or groups. For example, if a newspaper talks about "ultraconservatives" and "ultraliberals" but never from "ultrasocialists" or "ultraprogressives", what that medium is doing is trying to manipulate you.

5. Don't stop at the headline: read the rest

On social networks and WhatsApp it is common for screenshots of media headlines, or supposed headlines, to be spread. On Instagram you can't even publish links... The downside is that this doesn't usually happen. make it easier to check if the text of the news corresponds to what the headline says. Furthermore, there are many people who only read the headlines of the news before spreading it and even before giving their opinion on it. In 2017 I already warned about this bad habit. In For many years, this blog has been reporting cases of headlines that do not correspond to the text of the news. A scandalous example was the hoax about the sale of arms by the Vatican, in which some sensationalist media published a headline that had nothing remotely to do with the text of the news.To be better informed we should not stay at the headline. You have to read the rest.

Of course, what I have just explained requires an effort on the part of the reader. Now it's your turn to decide whether to face this effort to be free, or the easiest thing, which is to let yourself be manipulated.

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