A common misconception is that fake news articles and satirical pieces are the same thing, when they are actually the complete opposite of one another. The definition of satire is a literary, graphic, or performing art piece that uses humor and wit to expose or bring attention to the shortcomings, follies, and flaws of a subject, often to incite social change and criticism. In contrast to this, fake news organizations spread misinformation to a specific target audience for the explicit intention to project their falsehoods as fact in order to form the audience’s views and perceptions of a subject. Some helpful questions to ask yourself when confronted with news that seems as if it could be false are:
2: Consider the information; is it information that seems wholly possible, does it seem utterly ridiculous? (Most satire will be obviously absurd on purpose to exaggerate the point the author is making).
3: Consider the context; is the information presented in it’s original context? For example, if the news article is about an important individual’s most recent speech, have you seen or heard the audio or video of the person speaking, and does the context match the news article in question? If it does not, the words that the person uses could be quite misleading when taken out of context.
This distinction between fake news and satire and the identification of fake information is extremely relevant today as many people are formulating their opinions and worldviews based on false information. It has become much easier for individuals to come into contact with and share misinformation with others. In addition to this, fake news websites have also been shown to play a large role in affecting large public decisions such as the very recent United State’s federal election, or on whether or not your children should be vaccinated (they should be). A few websites that are useful when checking facts of all kinds and have reliable news are: Statistics Canada’s statcan.gc.ca, cbc.ca, and Health Canada for Canadian information, and factcheck.org, and politifact.com for American political information. So in short, remember to always think critically and question the way we think about and interpret the news and media. If you have doubts about something, research it!