How bad is the fake news phenomenon?
A man who was "self-investigating" a fake news story was arrested after shooting his assault rifle in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria.
President-Elect Trump fired a member of his transition team for sharing fake news.
And the Wall Street Journal is attracting new readers by promising their stories are "created, curated and checked in a real newsroom."
The good news is you don't have to subscribe to the Journal to get "real" news. You just have to know how to spot the fake stuff. Having spent the past three years speaking to audiences around the country and writing a book about misleading information, here are the questions I think you should be asking:
- Who is reporting the story? Some media outlets are (much) more trustworthy than others. Is it possible for The Washington Post to publish a fake story? Of course. Is it likely that they'll do this on a regular basis? Probably not, because their readership and reputation are built on trust. Consider the historical accuracy of the media outlets you follow.
From the internet to talk radio and beyond, it's almost impossible to escape fake news. And with social media and other tools, these fake stories are spreading faster than ever and having an increasingly large impact. But by asking a few smart questions, you can make sure (in the immortal words of Pete Townshend) that you won't get fooled again.
This blog is a collaboration with my Everydata co-author, Mike Gluck.