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Fake News: Tips For Increasing Your Online Awareness

Want to know how to spot fake news straight away, as well as how to debunk it? Here are some tips that are sure to help!

How It All Began.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with “Fake news”,  an expression that became popularized in 2016 during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The term has been around for decades, but its impact and reach are growing as the use of social media becomes more popular. Of course, the consequences of fake news circulating online can hurt anyone – individuals, groups and businesses alike. This is especially true as fake news performs much better than real news in social media popularity and engagement (Price, 2017). So, here are some ways to spot and debunk fake news easily!

How Individuals Can Spot Fake News.

Person marking check on opened book after fact-checking fake news sites
Fact-checking for fake news

To learn how to spot fake news, individuals need to improve their internet literacy. This includes: firstly, knowing how algorithms and automated systems perform, as they play a large role in the circulation of fake news. Secondly, learning how autoplay playlists work. This is important to know as autoplay often put false clickbaity videos alongside legitimate news, giving them a false sense of legitimacy.

Thirdly, you should be able to check the validity of online sites by using fact-checking tools like and This is crucial because many social media sites, like the Trump-supported site ‘Parler’, do not fact-check their users’ content. Finally, users should be able to spot paid promotion ads in seemingly organic posts by influencers. This misleading content often includes skinny detox teas and miracle weight loss pills, which can be harmful to your health.

How Businesses Can Debunk Fake News.

Multi-cultural people raising their firsts to the sky after debunking fake news
Ethical business practice

Fake news can have negative consequences on business’ finances, consumer trust, competitiveness, brand loyalty and reputation (Aula, 2010). To avoid this, businesses need to know how to debunk the legitimacy and circulation of fake news. This can be done through:

  • Authentic and emotive storytelling;
  • Ensuring that their content is respective, truthful, and socially responsible (Baker and Martinson, 2001);
  • Managing their interactions and feedback with consumers carefully, and;
  • Pulling their advertisements from any fake news websites.

In fact, these methods are particularly effective as society switches towards more belief and emotion-based marketing (Rochlin, 2017).

How Society Can Regulate Fake News.

In short, we as a society need to use common sense when dealing with online content, which can include viral trends, hoaxes and conspiracies. Basically, these can be anything from climate change deniers, QAnon, anti-vaxxer groups or flat-earthers, etc. Therefore, we, as a society, also need to lobby for stricter advertising regulations online. For example, companies like Instagram are beginning the war on false or misleading content. In order to do this, they are flagging misleading content, removing users, and mentioning when a post is paid promotion

Person in mask and hoodie holding a burning fake news newspaper close-up photography
Conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and deep fakes contributing to fake news

However, more misleading media content is becoming more problematic and harder to spot. These include, ‘Cheap fakes’ – selectively editing videos so that the shared clip is not reflective of the true context of events. Similarly, it also includes ‘Deep fakes’ – Automated Intelligence constructing completely false/fictional videos, pictures, or audio. (To learn more about deep fakes and how to spot them, click here!) But, social media companies can combat these new forms of fake content by having transparency with their algorithms. Furthermore, they can also continue building software to detect fake news and deep/cheap fakes. Then we can make informed decisions and opinions by ourselves, without the influence of fake news (Zhang and Ghorbani, 2019).

Above all, we need to remember to use social media constructively, sensibly and in moderation (Carrier Clinic, 2015). To learn more about fake news, click here!


Aula, P. (2010). Social media, reputation risk and ambient publicity management. Strategy & Leadership, 38(6), pp.43-49.

Baker, S. and Martinson, D. (2001). The TARES Test: Five Principles for Ethical Persuasion. Journal of Mass Media Ethics [online], 16(2-3), pp.148-175. Available at: [accessed 27 April 2021].

Carrier Clinic (2015). Social Media Pros And Cons: Community Building To Facebook Addiction on [online]. Available at: [accessed 23 April 2021].

Price, R. (2017). Facebook Will Now Teach You How to Spot Fake News. Business Insider. Apr. 12 [online].Available at: facebook-how-to-spot-fake-news-2017-4?IR=T [accessed 23 April 2021].

Rochlin, N. (2017). Fake news: belief in post-truth, Library Hi Tech, (35)3, pp.386- 392.

Zhang, X., and Ghorbani, A. A. (2019). An overview of online fake news: Characterization, detection, and discussion. Information Processing and Management, 57, Article 102025.