Content Curation in an Era of Fake News

Fake NewsFrom the recent election to “viral” content that is less than truthful, fake news is doing more than infiltrating your Facebook account and Twitter feed. Stories that are made up in part or completely can do more than annoy you—if you inadvertently share one of them, you could harm your brand and your authentic voice. Learning more about fake news, what it is, and how it could damage your brand can help you avoid the perils of sharing a faux news story.

Content Curation and Fake News

Content curation allows you to share meaningful and relevant information with your prospects and followers, and helps position you as an authority in your field. But, the content you share will have an impact on your brand. Sharing relevant, useful stories, videos, and topics adds value to your site and ensures you always have something of interest for your followers.

Sharing content that someone else created that is not relevant or offensive can harm your brand’s image. Visitors naturally associate you with the content, even though you did not create it. Fake news makes things even worse; your audience will be turned off by not only the faux news story, but lose trust in you as well. Delivering fake news shakes your audience’s faith in your message and may turn them off for good.

Can you Spot the Fake News?

Most fake news isn’t news at all—it’s propaganda, marketing materials, or something designed to make you think or act a certain way, masquerading as a real news story. The more a story has been shared, the more authentic it seems, but the opposite is often true.

Once a news story has been shared enough, it can begin to look like an authentic piece; that many people can’t be wrong, right? According to CBS News, less truthful content is often more entertaining or controversial and shared with more frequently than straight up factual news. The New York Times even covered the way a fake political story spreads like fire earlier this year, from the original post to its shares on Twitter, Reddit, and more. A read though the details gives some surprising insight into how these stories take off so quickly.

Track the Story Back

Follow the story back to its source, don’t just accept what you see on social media. In some cases, stories from authentic sources have been rewritten and respun, then spit back out by organizations who have nothing to do with credible news in the first place. Without a commitment to credibility and fact checking, that “news” story could be spun to sell you a product, get your vote, or even get you to think in a certain way. A real story will contain facts from official sources, including quotes, photo attributions, and statistics. If the piece is vague or refers to “sources” but doesn’t provide any, you could be dealing with a fake story.

Check the Images

In some cases, fake news creators use authentic images to support a false narrative. A 2016 or 2017 news story with images from 2011 may be recycling an old image to support their claim or narrative. Looking up the image on Google Image search or Tineye can give you an idea of its age and authenticity, and if the image aligns with the article at all. According to NPR, an alarming number of college students are unable to discern a fake news photo from a real one. The inclusion of a photo, even if it seems to support the article and the topic at hand, does not automatically mean the piece is authentic.

Spoofed Sites

In some cases, the fake news is shared from a site that is designed to look like an authentic news organization, but is slightly off. According to Snopes, spoofing a domain name and then creating a page that looks like the authentic version is becoming more common. The reader is lulled into thinking the story they are reading is true because of the site it appears to be showing on.

Spot it, Don’t Share it

The abundance of fake news makes your job as a content creator more difficult than ever before. You’ll need to make sure the piece you are considering using is from an authentic source, that the photos align with the story, and that you’re actually viewing the original version of the tale.

Incorporating a three-part process into your sourcing by checking the original source, the photos, and the domain name allows you to weed out the fakes and ensures that you do not inadvertently share anything misleading. While the extra fact checking does take time, it is more important than ever to protect your valuable brand and reputation from a fake story. The tale you share could end up breaking your reader’s confidence in your brand and have a long-lasting impact on your reputation.

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