Fake news is a misnomer. From the word itself, “news” automatically connotes truth so the term fake news does not make sense. But what should it be called? False information—that’s what fake news is. It is misinformation and disinformation, a “problematic content that sit within our information ecosystem” according to Claire Wardle of First Draft, a nonprofit coalition that tackles information disorder online.
In this fast-paced age where information floods your social media feed by the second, it is tricky to tell the so-called fake news apart from legit local government news in the Philippines. However, if you can determine the types of misinformation and disinformation at a glance, you might stand a chance.
Wardle outlined 7 types of misinformation (the unintentional dissemination of false information) and disinformation (the intentional dissemination of false information) which varies in level depending on its intent to deceive. Below are the types and how you can spot them.
1 Satire or Parody – No intention to cause harm but has intention to fool.
Satire is the use of humor to criticize a subject. Websites like The Adobo Chronicles, So, What’s News?, The Professional Heckler and Agila Times, among others, are good example of satirical websites.
The above government news is a classic example of satire in the local setting. Obviously, people aren’t that immature to resign from a post, especially after spending too much time and effort campaigning for a national position (the second highest government post at that).
How to Spot Satire or Parody: Investigate the source, read beyond the headline or ask experts. Satire websites almost always distinguish themselves as satire.
2 False Connection – When headlines, visuals or captions don’t support the content.
Many are guilty of passing judgment after checking the headline without reading the entire content. It’s because some propagandist mastered the art of enticing headlines that elicits emotion from people, and readers are too irresponsible and lazy to read the full content.
How to Spot False Connection: Read beyond the headline (if it’s a video, watch the entirety of it) or check your biases.
3 Misleading Content – Misleading use of information to frame an issue or individual
An old video showing Imelda Marcos’ acquittal from corruption cases in 2008 just made it to social networking sites last month. This was done after the former first lady was convicted of seven counts of graft on November 9—a move that aims to mislead the result of the charges against Marcos.
How to Spot Misleading Content: Look for similar stories or read beyond the headline.
4 False Context – When genuine content is shared with false contextual information.
We have seen plenty of old local government news resurfacing on social media time and again. One example is this news about DSWD packing 50,000 relief goods under the Duterte administration. While the story about the new system to speed up production of food is true, it did not happen during Duterte’s reign.
Based on the caption, the post was meant to give the current administration good press. While the intention is up for debate, it obviously backfired when the date of the news was discovered.
How to Spot False Context: Check the date, check your biases or ask experts.
5 Imposter Content – When genuine sources are impersonated.
Your favorite legit local news outlets in the Philippines are a common target of this deception. In this type of misinformation and disinformation, the URL of credible news sites are altered to mimic them as shown in the below example.
This is quite tricky and many fall victim to this imitation. The official URLs that GMA News uses are gmanetwork.com, gmanetwork.com/news, and gmanews.tv.
How to Spot Imposter Content: Inspect the URL, investigate the source or check the author.
6 Manipulated Content – When genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive.
Remember Agot Isidro getting quoted about a tweet she supposedly posted on her social media account? Turns out it was a case of manipulated content wherein part of her tweet was intentionally deleted.
How to Spot Manipulated Content: Investigate the source.
7 Fabricated Content – New content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm.
Some netizens are gullible to believe fabricated content because of their biases. This type of internet users would instantly believe information they see no matter how hilarious it is because their perception of truth is clouded. If the news is in favor of their biases, regardless if it is 100% made up, they’d buy it and even help spread it.
Who would believe in news like “Thousands of Unused Robredo’s Slippers found in abandoned NPA Camp”, anyway?
How to Spot Fabricated Content: Look for similar stories, read beyond the headline or check your biases.
No matter what the intent is, sharing false information has a big impact to the parties involved and the public. Before you share that local government news, remember the 7 types of misinformation and disinformation and determine if what you just read is false information.