As discussed, fact-checking can be done by anyone, even at home, when they suspect that they’ve been exposed to fake news. But is it enough to find multiple instances of the same news item on other sources? It’s a case of “the more, the merrier”, right? Actually, that may not be the case. Established, major news outlets could end up being fooled and publish a fake news in spite of dedicated departments that should check against any inconsistencies. This usually happens with online media, as their news-cycles are hectic and news are published online extremely quickly with the aim of getting online before other competitors.
In 2016, for example, mainstream media in India reported that the country’s newest 2,000 rupees bill had a tracking device inside it. The news was a fabrication created on popular messenger app Whatsapp, but before it got refuted by officials it got to spread far and wide, even outside Indian borders. Understandably, many people protested because they feared for their privacy: who would have used the data collected by the rupee bills? Of course, nothing about it was true, but the news was enough to have serious political and social consequences.
Mainstream media can still be trusted, when they can be fooled so easily? Of course! However, there are online instruments that can confirm whether what they publish is true or not. One such tool is world-famous Snopes.com, launched in 1994 (one more confirmation that fake news have always been around!) to debunk false claims on any media. Factcheck.org is another source against news implausibility. There are many sites offering similar information for free, as well as many regional resources aimed at discussing news in specific parts of the world.