“Fake news” is prevalent on social media now more than ever, and the ways to distinguish real information from falsities are few and far between. Even though representatives from Twitter and Facebook claimed they are prepared to shut down foreign misinformation attacks ahead of the elections, the burden ultimately falls on the individual to determine whether the news they consume is legitimate.
Fact-checking, that is, doing a deeper dive into the headlines and posts we see on Facebook, is the most important way we can combat misinformation. Website data often points to the content creator, whether that be a legitimate news organization or a warehouse in Ukraine.
But as Vox points out, it can be hard to shed preexisting beliefs no matter who you are, especially in a world that values timeliness of information over accuracy.
Donald Trump made roughly 500 false statements in his first 200 days in office. That's more than 2 lies per day.
— Vox (@voxdotcom) September 8, 2018
Double or triple-checking anything significant that comes across your screen and calling out misinformation is a major way to combat “fake news,” and CNN’s Jake Tapper noted back in 2016 that it’s not just a problem with right-leaning media.
It baffles me how anyone on the left combatting "fake news" can turn a blind eye to the click baiting within its own ranks. HEAL THYSELF
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 23, 2016
Fighting fire with fire is not the answer when it comes to misinformation campaigns on Facebook. Fact checking websites like FactCheck.org and NPR Politics send out emails and tweets alongside website updates in an effort to combat fake news in real time, but they alone can’t halt the spread of information. The everyday social media user needs to become their own fact checker, using a multitude of trusted sources, not just a single one, to gather their news in an unbiased way.