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How to Fact Check Your News

November 17, 2020

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The internet is a wild place.

While almost anything you could want to know is out there, there’s a lot of fake info, too.

So it’s important to fact check everything you read. This guide will teach you how.

Social Media

All social media websites are products of companies who need to make money.

Social media companies make money by showing us ads. 

The more ads you see and click on, the more money a social media company makes.

Everything we see on social media—including ads and news stories—is controlled by an algorithm, a complex set of rules that tell software what to do. 

The algorithms that control what we see on social media have a specific purpose: to keep us online. The longer we’re on, the more ads we see, the more money the company makes.

Makes sense, right?

Turns out one of the most effective ways of keeping us glued is to show us things that make us upset

If you see something upsetting, you’re more likely to click on it. And when we click on something, the algorithm shows us more of the same. 

Social media companies say they’re trying to change for the better, but this is where we’re at right now.

So always be skeptical when you find content or news on social media.

News vs. opinion

The two main kinds of articles you’ll run across online can be divided into two groups—news and editorials.

There’s a very important difference between the two.

A news article is a factual report of an event. 

An editorial is a writer’s opinion of an event.

While an editorial may give you information about an event, you are getting that information through an opinion. 

What you are reading right now is an editorial. It’s my opinion on how to fact check news.

While news can be true or false, an editorial is only an opinion.

So how do you tell what’s what? 

Let’s dive in.

Learning how to fact check

The first rule of fact checking is to be critical of what you read. (Yes, even what you’re reading now.)

If you see a news story that seems upsetting or that doesn’t make sense, do not automatically assume it’s true. 

Instead, do a little research.

All you need to do is google the news story or the topic the news story is about.

See if other news outlets are reporting the same story. 

If lots of news outlets are all saying the same thing, the story is probably true.

Here’s where it gets tricky again. 

All news outlets will give you at least a little of their opinion along with the news. This is called a slant.

Because of the slant in today’s news, it’s a good idea to fact check what you read using legacy news organizations.

A legacy news organization is one that wasn’t born online.

When I fact check news, I use the Associated Press (AP) or Reuters

Both of these news organizations have been around since the 1800s.

And many other news organizations use AP and Reuters reporting as a basis for their own news stories.

That’s not to say that AP and Reuters get it right 100% of the time. You still have to do some of the work yourself. 

The internet makes it easy to share false news stories. But the internet also makes it easy to fact check those same stories. 

Remember to be critical when reading news online, and you’ll do just fine.

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

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Julian Dossett

Julian Dossett

Julian is a tech and finance writer, covering stories from artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency to personal loans and credit cards. His work has appeared at The Simple Dollar, Bankrate, and Blockchain Beach. As a former Cision editor, Julian worked across the table from many of the nation’s most trusted brands. He’s currently based in New Mexico.

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