The good news is that a lot is being done to stop the spread of fake news. In recent years, for example, Google and Facebook have banned fake news sites from advertising on their pages. Facebook is also working with fact-checking organizations around the world, including PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org, to help identify and flag made-up articles that are posted on its platform so they can be deleted.
In addition, lawmakers in several states, including Connecticut, New Mexico, and Washington, have recently passed or introduced bills requiring public schools to teach media literacy. Such lessons would show students how to analyze information from websites, TV, and other forms of media, and how to detect bias.
In the end, however, it’s up to each of us to be skeptical of what we see online. For starters, if a story doesn’t seem quite right or appears too good to be true, investigate it. Spend a few minutes researching the headline, the author, the sources, and the website it came from. And if you suspect a story might be false, don’t share it on social media.
“It’s our responsibility to stop the spread of fake news,” says Jonathan Anzalone, the assistant director of the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University in New York. “We need to be committed to seeking out the truth.”