To Share or Not To Share. That is the Question.

Well it seems like we can’t swing a dead cat (sorry, couldn’t help it) without running into yet another story about so-called “Fake News”. Or see yet another reference from 45 about “Fake News”.

While I haven’t actually conducted a study on the number of times our President has mentioned “Fake News” it seems like it is happening a great deal.

A scan of recent news reports referencing “fake news” includes news organizations on the left, the right and everything in-between. Potentially trusted and not so trusted and even so-called “alternative media” are all writing about “fake news” and pointing their biased fingers at each other claiming the other is “fake”.

But…it can’t all be “fake” can it?

To begin with it is important to know what “fake” really means, especially in this context. Many thanks to @NPR for providing this awesome piece on the meaning of “fake news”.

From my perspective there are several big issues with this concept of “fake news”. Not only do we need to become more savvy readers, we must accept that just because we don’t agree with someone else’s point of view, that doesn’t make the opinion or context “fake”.

So how does one tell if a news item is fake or not? author Claire Wardle tackles this very issue and quite well I might add.

She provides this wonderful chart that shows the different types of “information” that you can run into, categorizing it as either misinformation or disinformation and adds in the purpose or why that particular type of content is being created.

Misinformation and Disinformation chart from

Please take a few minutes to read more about Claire’s take on “fake news”. I’ll wait.

Now that you know how to tell the difference between the complicated levels of information, how can you put into practice what you’ve learned?

  1. Think SLOW. Stop sharing content just because your friends shared it. Resist the impulse to hit that fast share button without first reading the content your friends shared.
  2. Be CRITICAL. Use your critical thinking skills. Read the content critically. Check the date. Does it really make sense to share this further to your friend circle or do you have questions about it?
  3. Trust…but VERIFY. As you read the article shared by your friend, take an extra minute to conduct a search to see what others are saying about the same topic.

Remember, just because you don’t agree with someone’s opinion doesn’t mean the information is “fake”.  It might be…but then again it might not. Just because information comes from an “alternative” source also doesn’t mean it is “fake”. Again, it might be…but it also might not be.

In the digital age it is increasingly important to support a vibrant press — we may not always agree with them, but without them, our democracy is lost.