"Fake news" and "alternative facts" have gotten a lot of attention lately. They show how prevalent news hoaxes have become in today's media landscape - and how dangerous it can be to rely on bogus information.
"This is a significant consumer fraud problem," says Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. "People who post these bogus articles make a lot of money off your clicks, while you get information that can harm you. For years I've encouraged Oregonians to be skeptical of emails and phone calls that sound too good to be true. I now urge you to do the same with news reports that aren't properly sourced."
This Scam Alert contains tips to help you distinguish between what's real and what's not in your daily news consumption. Please give it your attention:
- If the author of an article or post is not given - or if the author is not properly identified - you should be skeptical.
- The same is true if there are not references or links to legitimate source material.
- If there are errors of spelling or grammar, this should be an immediate tip-off to doubt what you're reading.
- If the report seems hard to believe, it likely isn't worth your time and attention.
- The same is true if only one side of the story is reported.
- If the headline is not consistent with the story, don't trust either.
- Doubt overly emotional stories - including those that "hyperventilate."
- Give the website's domain name (URL) a careful look. ABCNews.com is real; ABCNews.com.co is not.
- Similarly, check the "About Us" section of the website. Again, if it's sketchy, the website likely is, too.
- Have quotations been altered? You can check this easily. Just cut and paste into Google's Search engine.
- You can verify stories that make you doubt them. FactCheck.org and Politifact.com monitor U.S. political stories. Snopes.com fact checks internet rumors.
- Facebook is now providing warning labels on questionable news reports. You can also report news hoaxes to Facebook.
Remember: People who post fake news make money from clicks on the bad information they provide. You can do your part to stop this.