Fact-Checking The Importance Of Verifying Information

Fact-Checking: The Importance Of Verifying Information

There are billions of people worldwide who can quickly and easily find information with the help of the internet. On the other hand, the ease with which misinformation can be disseminated has the potential to be harmful to individuals and society in general. For this, it’s critical to verify the accuracy of the information you get online.

To avoid being misinformed, you should always conduct your own research. This guide will teach you the principles of evaluating information sources.

There are billions of people worldwide who can quickly and easily find information with the help of the internet. On the other hand, the ease with which misinformation can be disseminated has the potential to be harmful to individuals and society in general. For this, it’s critical to verify the accuracy of the information you get online.

To avoid being misinformed, you should always conduct your own research. This guide will teach you the principles of evaluating information sources.

WHAT IS FACT-CHECKING?

According to Adhikari, the editor of South Asia Check, fact-checking is the process of confirming whether a piece of information is true or misleading. More accurately, whether it is supported by verifiable facts or not.

Everyone knows not everything they read, see, or hear is reliable. False information in the media or the internet can be as minor as an honest mistake. However, misinformation and disinformation can damage democratic institutions, support authoritarian administrations, and limit people’s ability to make informed choices. Misleading information comes in many ways, but fact-checking gives easy methods, processes, and tools to address it.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MISINFORMATION AND DISINFORMATION?

The difference between misinformation and disinformation might be challenging to distinguish. Incorrect information spreads through a variety of channels. Understanding the motives behind the dissemination is critical in preventing and countering its spread.

MISINFORMATION 

“False information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead.” Dictionary.com

Misinformation is one of the most innocent terms. It is information that isn’t true but is not meant to manipulate people.

DISINFORMATION

“Deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda.” Dictionary.com

Disinformation is the intentional dissemination of false information. It either discredits contradictory data or supports incorrect interpretations to manipulate the audience. Inaccurate assumptions and lies are often used as part of an attempt to twist the facts.

IMPORTANCE OF FACT-CHECKING  

(FACT-CHECKER’S MINDSET)

The digital revolution has made it easier for the media, non-profit groups, and citizen investigators to research and verify claims made on the internet. Especially ones that get a lot of attention on social media or other sites. Fact-checking has become more critical as false claims, lies, and conspiracy theories spread on the internet.

False information travels rapidly on social media and other websites, but citizen investigators may help promote truth and reliability. To do so, we must focus on the process of fact-checking and, most critically, on cultivating a “fact checker’s mindset.” Just as Adhikari emphasizes, the set of behaviors, ethics, evidence-based approaches, concerns, and motivation foster an “investigator’s mindset.” You can similarly construct your own fact-checking mindset and related practices that go beyond the tools you use.

Fact checker’s mindset is the ability to analyze and assess a piece of information, whether written, photo, video, meme, etc., and judge its authenticity. The goal is to find proof. To accomplish so, the checker must examine the data sources, observe, and make decisions based on results. By using open source tools, collaborating with others, and improving their skills, citizen investigators and anyone else can quickly address false information and start noticing the differences, purposes, and reach of different and often interconnected actions and phenomena like misinformation and disinformation.

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH FACT-CHECKING?

For someone with a fact-checker’s mindset, it’s natural to investigate a controversial image, video, meme, or text. You need to incorporate several questions like “What?” Who? “How?” Where?” and “When?” for in-depth fact-checking. It is centered on determining whether or not a claim is valid.

Verification is at the heart of fact-checking.

Verify the information in the context and avoid making assumptions when doing fact-checking. To understand how and why misinformation is spreading, it’s essential to look at the whole picture, including the people distributing it and the trends and interests. Investigations into the backgrounds of those making incorrect statements could show their ties to political organizations.

Find material to fact-check.

It’s critical to keep the public’s best interests in mind when deciding what information needs fact-checking.

Consider these questions: 

  1. How important is this information to the general public?
  2. Will it make a difference for me and help clarify information for other people?

Archive the claim

Before you start fact-checking, keeping the claim safe is essential. Make sure you get the picture or video, then take a screenshot of the post you made. The person could delete the claim if they realized they made a mistake or were caught. Users on many social media platforms are likely to have shared the picture even if it’s been taken down.

Research the claim

What questions do you have regarding a claim or a statement that you’d like to verify? Run a search for relevant terms on the websites of major newspapers and relevant agencies, departments, and research institutions. Keyword research on search engines and social media platforms often provides additional clues and insights that were previously unavailable. There has to be a reliable source reporting on it. Have other fact-checkers proved the claim?

  • How to evaluate the credibility of a source?

If the websites and experts you visit during your research are reliable, your fact-check will be strengthened and its credibility enhanced.

  • We must check the About Us pages for websites to know if authorized individuals or institutions operate them.
  • We can verify their credibility for experts by checking their credentials and history.

After your internet search, you can consult the specialists. You can find sources on LinkedIn or Twitter. Explain why you wish to talk. They won’t take you seriously if you don’t get the basics straight from the start, so you need to study the topic before asking them. A solid background of research can help you get better interviews with these experts. They may refer to a book, data set, or report that can lead you to additional human sources. Experts can assist you in understanding the context and issues.

While online text and photographs are relatively simple to fact-check, video poses a vast challenge to locating the original video or source. Social media keyword searches and observation and listening abilities can discredit a popular video. To verify, we can use reverse image search tools like Invid, a browser extension that separates video into keyframes, which are available. Similarly, the YouTube data viewer shows the first upload date of the video but not when it was initially made.

Use your abilities of observation and research to locate the sources of photographs and videos. Use geolocation applications like Google Earth, Street View, BingMaps, and many more.

Publish your fact-check or investigate further

You may be fact-checking to publish on a blog, social media account, or on a website you work with.

Keep in mind the following when writing and publishing a fact-check:

  • The focus should be on the evidence.
  • Fact-checks often deal with heavily debated issues or questions. To begin, demonstrate the context and claims.
  • The same standards writing rules apply to fact-check reports: active voice, short and straightforward sentences.
  • Some fact-checks need the use of more words than others. However, while conciseness is desirable, clarity of the information should not be affected.

Components of a thorough fact-check

The initial statements or claims: Some fact-checkers choose to rephrase a claim with too many different words and phrases. While this strategy has appeal, it’s generally ideal to have the relevant claim or exact statement, so readers know what’s being verified or addressed.

Links to sources: You should link to credible sources, identify experts you quote, and link their bios to the text of your article.

A summary of your findings: Your findings can be summarized in a few bullet points at the beginning of the document, backed by a more in-depth investigation. The fact-checking method should be included in the report so that anyone may follow it.

Visual aids: Although fact-checks may contain a lot of text, this should not affect their overall visual appeal. Photos, videos, graphics, or screenshots are used to enhance the content of the reports.

A verdict: Here, you can state whether the information presented in the piece was misleading, false, or half-true. Additionally, you can insert a section at the end of the findings.

If we don’t put in the effort to double-check our facts, we’re handing over our control over our own reality to others. Fact-checking demonstrates the importance of maintaining a healthy sense of doubt to ensure our well-being.

Reference:

Get Your Facts Straight: The Basics of Fact-Checking

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