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This chapter is from the book

How to Avoid Spreading False Information

Hopefully the information in this chapter has alerted you to the problem of fake news and fraudulent information you might find on Facebook and other social media. You’ve learned what fake news is and how to identify it.

Your challenge from here is to not only avoid being influenced by fake news, but also to not spread it to your friends and family. To be a responsible social media user, you need to keep your news feed as factual as possible and avoid spreading information of questionable validity.

Here’s what you need to do.

Read It Before You Share It

Believe it or not, the majority of people who share stories via Facebook don’t actually read those stories all the way to the end before they post. A lot of folks read only the headline and post it without reading anything. That’s irresponsible.

If you’re going to share something with people you know and respect, respect them enough to read the thing you’re sharing. You might discover, on closer inspection, that the article is obviously fraudulent, that it doesn’t actually say what the headline promises, or that you disagree with what it ends up saying. If you want your friends to read it, the least you can do is read it first.

Check It Out Before You Share It

Don’t share things that you suspect are fake. Use all the techniques you’ve learned in this chapter, including the Snopes and Media Bias/Fact Check websites, to check the validity of the article; don’t just blindly repost things you see in your news feed. Make sure it’s factual before you share it.

If Someone Questions It, Remove It

If you somehow end up posting something that isn’t factual, and someone points out to you that that’s the case, go back and delete. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media let you remove your posts after you’ve posted; you should do this if you discover you’ve posted some fake news. It’s a way of correcting your mistakes, and you need to do this. (You may even want to create a new post revealing the new information you have about the first post, to completely clear the air.)

Bottom line, you need to be careful about what you share on social media. There’s a lot of phony stuff out there, and you don’t want to be duped into sharing it with people who trust you. Keep their trust by not posting fake news.

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