It seems everyone has an opinion when it comes to the news. The problem is that many of these opinions get spun into actual news. As the news of the pandemic and other health issues hits our news feeds, many people find it difficult to know what’s the right thing to believe. We’ve got five tips for spotting fake health news.
1. Check The Data
Online data can be daunting. It’s important to check the credentials, references and publishing date of each piece of news. It’s important that you read the most current information when it comes to health news. The article or blog should always be originally written by a health professional. Information from a random source could be hearsay or opinion. References for research articles will always have information available as to where they obtained the details. If the article claims to have “huge” news or big breakthroughs in healthcare, you need to dig into the evidence to ensure it’s the truth.
2. Listen To Language
Emotions and opinions are not used in true, real news stories. Unless you’re reading an editorial or listening to an expert expel their thoughts, real stories should not involve opinions. Some stories and journalists use a strategy of tapping into people’s emotions to generate more publicity. Fear and theories have no place in stories full of facts. Presenting the facts is important when it comes to health stories. Some stories are presented to simply make the reader feel something. The person behind the story wants to push the person in a certain direction. Divisive language in these stories is often used when the writer is trying to sell their ideas, product or brand. It’s important for the reader to identify divisive words, emotions or opinions, and read beyond the writer’s personal itinerary.
3. Exaggerated Language
Crazy claims might just be crazy. When you view an article that uses exaggerated language, beware that it might be false. Many times an article will claim to have a breakthrough or revolutionary finding. If something was truly a breakthrough, you wouldn’t be reading about it days later. You would have a news bulletin of “breaking news” about the story. Science is something that never stops. If something wild happens in science, you will know right at the moment it breaks. You aren’t going to find out a month later in an online article. You may see an article claiming a new vaccine for coronavirus or proven cure is happening at that very moment. Be skeptical because it’s too soon to cure this virus. Ongoing trials of vaccines and treatments are happening, but they won’t just suddenly become available to the public. If anyone is claiming a vaccine will be available in the upcoming months, they’re presenting false news. They’re probably trying to sell you something by touching on the fears stemming from this virus.
4. Conspiracy Theories
You’ve probably seen the conspiracy theories regarding the Coronavirus. Some say it’s a hoax. Others say it’s all political. Be careful what you see scrolling on social media that might lead to someone’s own theory. A “Plandemic” video included all sorts of claims, but it didn’t have any facts. It claimed the virus was made in a lab among other things. Conspiracy theory videos often include information from “authorities” who wanted to keep the details private. They’ll claim the authorities know everything, but don’t want anyone else to know. If something doesn’t seem quite right, it probably isn’t right. Authorities aren’t hiding any crazy cures out there from the public. Do your research on the “experts” in the videos. Scientific experts don’t just throw videos online. They speak about issues in real-time instead of online articles. Scientific studies also don’t throw their findings in a random article.
5. Dig Deeper Than A Headline
A headline is meant to lure a reader into the article. If you don’t recognize the news source, dive in a little deeper. Many times a news handle similar to one you follow will spread lies. Though the name looks almost just like a real news handle, it’ll be a little off. It’s important to read the entire story before making an informed decision. Spelling errors and bad grammar are also red flags. News outlets check their facts as well as check their grammar on a consistent basis. Mistakes are made, but copy editors won’t usually leave more than one or two mistakes. Always check your resources at places like FactCheck.org. Always remember that a headline only goes so far. The actual story is the most important part. If the story contains fake news, you’ll start to pick up on the details as you read.
Keep your head up when reading articles. It’s important to always make informed decisions in regards to health. There’s so much information online about the state of today’s health and the pandemic. It’s up to you to separate the truth from the fiction.