Fake News

The Broadcast Message to End all Broadcast Messages


A lot of us know the feeling of mental fatigue that comes with seeing these bogus clickbait headlines, followed by outlandish claims by some phantom professional telling us eating while watching a movie on your laptop can give brain tumors. More often than not, we receive these messages from our much-loving parents who want the best for us, unfortunately falling prey to these hoaxes.  And explaining why your parents are wrong, can sometimes be a herculean task, because African parents are never wrong, especially not in the face of their kids.

For a while I’ve been thinking about what I could do to aid this issue, it was incredibly easy finding material that explained how to spot fake news, as it is a great issue globally now. With my spammy headline, but actually substantiated and verifiable claims, I hope that one less older person believes fake news.

Fake News
IFLA [International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions] Fake News Infographic

Know how to spot common features of fake “news” articles – as provided by Factcheck.org

  • With practice, you can learn to recognize features of fake news articles such as:
  • Authors with a history of writing fake or misleading news. Click on the author’s name to see if you can find other articles written by the author and information on their credentials or affiliations.
  • Provocative, inflammatory or misleading headlines, read beyond the headline. Does the story match the claims in the headline? Does the headline exaggerate? 
  • Strange URLs, example: websites that end in “lo” or “.com.co” may be trying to pass themselves off as established news sites (ex: msnbc.com.co)
  • Is an article that was recently published discussing an event from many months ago? 
  • Lack of verifiable sources, ethical journalists make it clear where they are getting their information.
  • Pictures and quotes may be manipulated or made up. Use Google reverse image search to find the origins of images. 
  • Be aware of politically framed content, check your biases, if you over agree or over disagree then take a second look, things are made to appeal to the emotions that already exist within you.
  • Facts go viral less often than falsehoods.
  • If it sounds too ridiculous to be true, it probably is! Verify the source and context.
  • Poor grammar, this may be evidence that the article has not gone through an editorial process. 
  • Pictures or quotes that are untraceable.
  • Finally, look out for anonymous authors; excessive exclamation points, capital letters, and misspellings; entreaties that “This is NOT a hoax!”; and links to sourcing that does not support or completely contradict the claims being made.

Broadcast messages can really be a force for good, to spread relevant information at quick rates, unfortunately, what we’ve seen it become for the most part, is an avenue to spread misinformation, sometimes subtle, other times overt. Inadvertently, it keeps the person sucked into its bubble out of the loop of verifiable information one needs to survive and thrive in the internet age.

I’ve attached a piece of learning material you can share to people around you to reduce susceptibility to broadcast message misinformation.

PS. You can have some fun and forward this to people who send you BCs, as a BC [Without this part of course]

Nasir Ahmed Achile

Philosophy nut. I recommend Albert Camus, Eckhart Tolle and bell hooks to everyone I know.

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