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(Please) Don’t Fall Victim to Social Media’s Fake News Problem

January 9, 2017 Bradford Group Administrator

Who isn’t on social media these days? From ordinary people and celebrities of all ages, to businesses and brands, social media is the thread that ties us all together.

But, I’ve got a real problem with social media right now—fake news.

Though we live in the Information Age, a time when toddlers have iPads and access to the internet, millions of people repost blatantly false news with one click instead of running a quick Google search to check its validity.

Social media is a necessary marketing tool for all business—small, medium or large, B2B or B2C. It’s an important way we communicate in this day and age, and if you’re not on social media, then your business is invisible to those who turn to it for information.

If your business falls victim to this issue by sharing or posting false information on its social media pages, it could likely do damage to your reputation and your bottom line.

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid the dissemination of fake news and protect your business.

Open the article.

obviously

The first step to ensuring that you’re sharing quality information is to read beyond the headline. Often, people see a catchy headline that aligns with their thoughts or cause, and they’re quick to post it without digging deeper. So, step 1. Open it.

Read it. All the way to the bottom.

scrolling

Have you ever been mid-article and ­– plot twist – suddenly realized that the first part of the article was parody or hyperbole just to make a point? If you haven’t, then you probably aren’t reading many articles in full. Before sharing an article, read it, and process it, from top to bottom to make sure that it’s actually about what you think it’s about.

Click all of the links.

logical

Usually, news articles will include links to other articles or sources to validate the information. If there are no links within the page, or if they link to untrusted sources, it’s usually not a good sign. Which leads me to my next point…

 Ask yourself, “Is this a valid news source?”

kidz-news

Check the URL and/or masthead to see who published the article. If it’s a reputable news outlet or its real website—there are spoof pages out there, so beware—then you’re likely in the clear. Unless you end up on a trusted news source’s satirical section, such as the New Yorkers’ Borowitz Report, which has fooled me at least one. This is another reason why it’s important to always read the article to the bottom.

Run a quick Google search.

google

Run a search on Google it to see if anyone else is discussing the news in question. If it is, in fact, real, then a quick Google search should yield coverage from at least one major network or publication.

Luckily for social media users, some platforms, like Facebook, are working on ways to flag fake news. But on others, it’s every man for himself. Don’t be that guy.

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