What Is Fake News & How To Spot One? Skills To Combat Online Misinformation



13 June, 2024

What Is Fake News & How To Spot One? Skills To Combat Online Misinformation

Disinformation and Fake news have become among the most challenging tools of new media today. They spread faster than accurate and fact-checked news, making it more difficult to combat them. In today’s world, where everything is online and students are digitally equipped with unlimited information, keeping a check on accurate information is quite a task. However, it can be combated by properly developing critical thinking skills and adequately examining the information.

What Is Disinformation & Fake News?

Disinformation can be defined as the deliberate spread of untrue or misinformation to the public for some ulterior motive. It is the information that is purposefully skewed or misleading for the audience and is often manipulative. It is done to spread propaganda on behalf of some critical personnel or anyone in general. Fake news is similar to Disinformation, defined as the purposeful crafting of emotionally charged, misleading, or fabricated information. Both threaten the accuracy of the information in today’s scenario of trustworthy journalism. On social media, fake news articles are shared more frequently than those from edited news media. X, formerly known as Twitter, has been the primary source of disinformation in the new media world. This indicates how fast fake news spreads in this digital world.

How Can Disinformation & Fake News Spread?

Disinformation and fake news quite rapidly spread around the world. This often sensationalises the public and thus spreads like wildfire in no time. Some of the reasons for such spread are as follows:

  1. Intentional creation: Fake news is the intentional creation of untrue information. Individuals with ulterior motives intentionally spread information that hurts someone’s reputation, or that is done for financial gain.

  2. Insufficient media literacy: The inability to critically assess information can aid in disseminating false information and fake news. This is why verification and fact-checking play a big role in journalistic norms.

  3. Social media: New media is one of the biggest sources of dissemination of fake news and disinformation. Advancements in technology also have cons; this is one of the major backdrops that has a widespread effect. Now, with just one click, information has the power to reach hundreds, and thus, new media, especially social media, plays a crucial role in the widespread dissemination of disinformation.

  4. Deep Fakes: Deep fakes are the edited versions of original audio, video, or images which have been manipulated. It is done by dubbing or photoshopping videos and pictures to make it look different from the original. Social media has enhanced such activities and has become a source of disinformation as people quite easily tend to believe those being original ones.

  5. Psychological factors: People often spread information that aligns with their preexisting notions about an event or subject. Fake news often instigates people to believe certain things that are not true, resulting in the spread of such news.

How To Combat The Spread Of Fake News?

Knowing how to combat the spread of fake news is essential. When coming across certain news, students must be diligent in figuring out whether the news is genuine or just fake information. Some of the ways to educate students to combat the spread of fake news are as follows:

  1. Encourage curiosity and enthusiasm: Students should be encouraged when curious about a topic. The more knowledge, the more understanding of the originality and truthfulness of the information. Students should also be taught to seek evidence and converse open-mindedly about specific issues. Accepting different perspectives would make them think critically about information and can help combat the spread of fake news.

  2. Double-checking the source: Information is everywhere, and in this digital world, we are all producers and consumers of information. But do we really know whether the information is accurate or not? So, by double-checking the source and assuring the information can be trusted, we can fight the spread of fake news. Looking for signs of bias, sensationalism, or lack of evidence are some factors influencing the spread of disinformation.

  3. Verification and fact-checking: These are the key elements that help determine a proper journalistic outcome. Verifying the source and its contents thoroughly can help reduce the spread of fake news. The proper cross-check may lead to understanding the manipulation done in the content. Avoid checking information from just one site. Results from multiple sites can help find accurate information.

  4. Figuring out motives: Many information sources present a particular motive. Students who can figure out the real motive behind a particular source can reduce the spread and generation of fake news to a greater extent.

  5. Fostering self-reflection: Students must analyse their biases and preconceived notions about a subject. They must also be motivated to get feedback from others and be open to changing their opinions to improve their knowledge. This would help them become more open-minded and better judges of certain situations.


Social media today, with its growing influence on youth, has led them to believe what they see is true. The enormous amount of available information sometimes dazzles us with its power. But it is our responsibility to verify what we consume. By developing these critical thinking skills, students can easily protect themselves from fake news and help stop its spread.

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