Don’t be duped by disinformation – here’s how!
Last updated on Friday, 27/08/2021
‘Fake news’ can spread like wildfire on social media, fuelling negative stereotypes and dangerous tensions. Here’s a look at EU action, as well as tools and tips to help you spot – and stop – false or deceptive information.
With mobile devices in our hands, it has never been easier to stay informed about what’s going on in the world.
Or has it?
As you scroll through social media and other apps or sites, be aware that some of what you see and read may appear perfectly legitimate when it’s anything but.
Luckily, it’s not hard to become a more savy online news consumer. The key is to step back and think twice before believing – or sharing – stories.
The FAKE OFF project, co-funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ programme, recently launched an app to help boost your online smarts.
Available in five languages, the app consists of a quiz to test your understanding of manipulated messaging and a detective game that gets you scouring featured stories for clues that they’re phoney. Download it for free here or here and have a go!
Children and young people are increasingly becoming the target of online information campaigns that pursue propaganda and financial goals, project partners note.
That said, here are some FAKE OFF tips to help you detect dubious stories in the digital world:
- Look for the writer’s name and use a search engine to check if the person is credible;
- Watch out for exaggerated headlines – don't let your emotions cloud your judgement;
- Strange, long and messy URLs are warning signs;
- Look for trustable links to facts – don’t fall for made-up studies;
- Don’t forget that satire and parody can often seem like fake news – it’s just a joke;
- Still in doubt? Then ask an expert or use fact-checking websites;
- Be aware of your own biases – we’re more likely to trust what matches our beliefs.
The EU vs. fake facts
The EU has taken a series of steps to stop fake ‘facts’ in their tracks. These include training and awareness raising events both in Europe and beyond to make young people less susceptible to falsehoods that are packaged in increasingly sophisticated ways.
One such example is the November 2019 EU-Turkey Youth Forum. Organised by the EU’s delegation to Turkey, the gathering drew hundreds of university students alongside local speakers and YouTube star @aykutelmas.
Hands-on workshops and discussions focused on how being smart media consumers and building up your digital literacy skills are key to countering lies and disinformation.
Participants got to test the Turkish online fact-checking platform teyit.org and learned how to become critical sharers of information.
Bogus or believable?
Other EU efforts to fight hoaxes include setting up a rapid alert system, supporting a free and independent media, cooperating with leading online platforms, facilitating the work of fact checkers and detecting – as well as – debunking myths.
Among these is the EUvsDisinfo website, which seeks to boost public awareness and understanding of Russia’s disinformation campaigns.
Want to build up your resistance and find out what’s really going on? Then subscribe to a weekly newsletter or search the site’s growing database of pro-Kremlin ‘disinfo’ cases for clarity on a whole range of topics. Read about what did not happen in 2019 – and much more!