Wednesday Jul 18 2018
Web Desk

Here's how to combat fake news on social media

Web Desk
Cheap handsets and data plans are bringing more Pakistanis online but many are first-time internet users unskilled in discerning fact from fiction. Photo: AFP file

As cheap handsets and data plans bring more Pakistanis online, the impending risk of fake news and its consequences continues to increase in the country.

With many users being first-time internet users unskilled in discerning fact from fiction, Pakistan is fertile ground for fake news to take hold and spread.

Awareness is key to fight false information. Here are a few helpful tips that will help you decide verified news from fake information.

Forwarded messages

A new feature recently rolled out by WhatsApp, allows you to see which messages have been forwarded. Determining who wrote the original message can be helpful in verifying facts.

Information that upsets you

Learn to question information that makes you angry or afraid. If you fail to convince yourself the information was not shared to intimidate or upset you, consider if its worthy of being shared before forwarding it to your contacts.

Information that seems unbelievable 

A poster publicising the new law at a Malaysia train station: the first person to run foul of it has been jailed. Photo: AFP

All it takes is to smartly utilise Google to verify any information that seems hard to believe.

Messages that look different

Spelling and grammar mistakes are common in fake news or messages containing hoaxes. Look for similar signs to understand the validity of the information.

Photos in messages

Carefully check photos and videos in messages you receive on social media platforms. Sometimes the photo is real but the story around is not and other times its vice versa.


Spelling mistakes or unusual characters can help you in identifying suspicious links.

Other sources

Always check if the story is being reported on other news websites or apps. Information is more likely to be true when it is reported in multiple places.

What you share

If you are concerned or unsure about the source of information you are sharing, think twice before doing so.

Viral news

Fake news often goes viral so do not pay attention to the number of times you receive a message.