I have investigated various websites to provide our readers with some simple guidelines on this very important topic, which may be of assistance.

In my research, I have discovered that there are several websites that provide information on trying to assist people to identify fake news mainly from the prime sources of distributing news. My feeling is that our readers would  also be interested in detecting fake news via various social media platforms. Therefore, in this article I have  also focused on fake news that a person may receive via Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. I heard on ENCA on 8 April 2020 that WhatsApp organisation is considering limiting only one message at a time to be sent, in  an endeavour to reduce fake news (I will, if possible update this announcement before our newsletter is published)

I have obtained some information from Mindtool’s website to provide some suggestions in this regard. Their appropriate link is reflected below;

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/fake-news.htm

Six Ways to Spot Fake News

Separating fact from fiction accurately can seem daunting. But getting to the truth is always worth the effort – even if it is not what you want to hear! Use these six steps to weed out the truth from the lies:

  1. Develop a Critical Mindset

One of the main reasons fake news is such a big issue is that it is often believable, which means it’s easy to get caught out. Many fake news stories are also written to create “shock” value.

       2. Check the Source

If you come across a story from a source that you have never heard of before, do some digging! Find out a bit more about the publisher – is it a professional and well-known news agency or is it someone’s personal blog?

       3. See Who Else Is Reporting the Story

Check whether the story has been picked up by other well-known news publishers. Stories from organizations like Reuters, CNN, and the BBC, will have been checked and verified beforehand. If the information you have is not from a well-known source like these, there’s a chance that it could be fake.

        4. Examine the Evidence

A credible news story will include plenty of facts – quotes from experts, survey data and official statistics, for example. If these are missing or the source is an unknown expert or a “friend,” question it!

         5. Look for Fake Images

Modern editing software has made it easy for people to create fake images that look professional and real. In fact,  research shows that only half of us can tell when images are fake.

         6. Check That It “Sounds Right”

Finally, use your common sense! If a story sounds unbelievable, it probably is. Bear in mind that fake news is designed to “feed” your biases or fears. And, remember, just because a story sounds “right” and true, does not mean that it is.

For example, it’s unlikely that your favourite designer brand is giving away a million free dresses to people who turn up to its stores. Equally, just because your colleague believes that two married co-workers are having an affair, does not mean it’s true.

These are just some of the suggestions that may assist. My experience has been that some of the e-mails look so genuine. Recently I received one from Telkom that looked real. I happened to be in a shopping centre just before lockdown. I went into Telkom’s outlet and their staff confirmed that this e-mail was not genuine. Therefore rather take the conservative route and trust your own gut feel.