How to spot fake news on social media


It’s not a news story but it’s the buzzword for all the fake news stories that are making the rounds these days.

There’s a whole new breed of online news sites trying to cash in on the frenzy, and with the proliferation of fake news, it’s a lucrative industry.

“It’s really hard to track down all the false information,” says Andrew Hickey, who runs social news tracking service, which helps track the rise and fall of viral stories.

“You need to find the story that is the most credible.”

He says some of the sites that have jumped on the bandwagon include Buzzfeed, which has a section dedicated to the “news” that has been created to sell fake news.

It is now available on the Buzzfeed website for $5 a month and offers a way for readers to report fake news and click through to the source, where it is vetted for truthfulness and accuracy.

But Buzzfeed’s algorithm only picks out fake news from its top 10 most popular topics. 

“We’re seeing more and more stories from fake news sites, and we’re seeing that they’re coming from people who are very angry,” says Mr Hickey.

Fake news sites that appear to be reputable outlets are often used to spread false news about celebrities, politicians and celebrities themselves, says Nick Coghlan, managing editor at news site Buzzfeed.

“If it’s not real, they’re not really going to share it,” he says.

“They’re not going to use it to reach their audience.”

But Buzzfeed is just one of a growing number of sites trying out to make a buck off the viral frenzy.

A growing number, including The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Vox Media, have been using social media to promote their content.

BuzzFeed is not the only site offering fake news in the online space.

Another big player in the market is Reddit, which is known for its subreddit and is also known for pushing conspiracy theories.

The site is notorious for its lurid comments sections, which can be full of racist, sexist and homophobic posts.

The forum, which currently has more than 3 million subscribers, is also notorious for posting misleading information on topics such as the 2016 US election and the Ebola pandemic.

There are a lot of sites out there that are trying to monetise the viral craze.

And with a number of social media platforms now offering news-related services such as news alerts and trending news, there is no reason to think that any fake news will disappear anytime soon, says Mr Coghlans research.

Mr Hickey says his research shows that most people who read a story on Buzzfeed or Reddit don’t actually believe it.

However, it does mean that a fake story may still find its way onto social media.

“The truth is out there, but the real stories don’t get shared,” he said.

“It’s a good way for fake news producers to make money.” 

Follow @BBCNewsbeat on Twitter, on Facebook and Radio1Newsbeat to hear the latest news and views.

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