With the advent of fake news it is hard to work out who’s telling the truth any more.
Social media and bloggers have been the main outlet for the dissemination of lies and misinformation.
It’s not just click-bait farms either: governments and major companies have been culpable too, interfering in political campaigns or making false advertising claims.
Even the BBC has come under fire for putting out false stories.
Often the narrative is so convincing that you just assume it is true or want to believe it is, especially if the people in your same social circle do too.
And once it has got enough traction it can be hard to stop the spread of fake news.
So how can you tell what is bona fide and what isn’t?
My general rule of thumb is that if it comes from a trusted source such as a broadsheet newspaper then it’s probably true.
But with the line between fact and fiction becoming increasingly blurred with everyone who has access to the internet thinking they’re a reporter, how can you be sure the information is correct?
Failure to ensure it is before publishing can mean you lose all credibility, causing untold damage to your brand’s reputation.
Get your facts straight
The number one rule I was taught at journalism college is that in order to make a story stand up you must first double check all of your facts.
This can be tricky, particularly when you are trying to verify multiple sources of information under pressure of deadline.
But now even social media companies such as Facebook are hiring fact-checkers to weed out fake news on their website.
The Poynter Institute has also set up an International Fact-Checking Network to tackle the growing problem.
Other specialist fact-checking organisations including NHS Behind the Headlines and the British Heart Foundation offer a similar service.
On a personal level, sites like Snopes and FactCheckingDay.com can also help you to discern whether a story is true of not.
Here are five top tips to help you fact-check your content properly:
1) Look at the sources where you get your information from
By doing your research properly and gaining your facts from a bona fide source such as an independent body you will save yourself a lot of time and effort when it comes to rechecking that information
2) Draw up a checklist of all the facts you need to check
Often if you are fact-checking a long piece of content you may miss or overlook some key facts, so have a thorough look over it first, extracting the facts you want to check and write a list of them as you go along first of all.
3) Ensure the reliability of the claims you are making
If you claim that a fact is true then you have to back it up with strong evidence, so make sure that what you’re saying is absolutely watertight by getting it from an indisputable source that has done its research thoroughly.
4) Don’t trust everything you read on the internet
When you are fact-checking it’s best to go direct to the source by calling them or accessing a hard copy of the document to see that the facts presented are correct and not just made up
5) Get in an expert to do your fact-checking
In our busy working day schedule we are pressured by time constraints and having to focus on our core role, so take away the burden of fact-checking by bringing in someone who can do the work to the highest possible standard.
Get in touch
- Struggling to get your facts straight? Give me a call on +44 (0)7949 590213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org