A battle against fake news
A battle against fake newsREUTERS/Dado Ruvic

How often have you come across a story that turned out to be fake? Thanks to the extensive reach of social media networking sites like Facebook, fake stories get circulated as real ones just as easily. Due to the rise of such news reports, there are several measures in place to identify fake news from real ones.

Facebook, for instance, announced some steps it has taken to stop the spread of such "fake news" on its global network of more than one billion people. After identifying fake news on Facebook, you can report it back to the social networking giant to take further action.

But the bigger question is how to identify if the news is fake or real? Here are some key elements to help you become a pro fake news checker.

There's a lot more to the source than it seems

Anonymity isn't a good sign, remember that. Not everything you read online is fake, but do not believe anything blindly. Sometimes even the well-established publications fail to catch the detail and report fake news as if real. But it is best to validate any story that may seem out of the ordinary with reliable sources.

Errors and overloaded emotions

More often than not, there are a lot of errors, unnecessary capitalisation of words and punctuations in fake news. It's a red sign. Also, if an article you are reading is overloaded with emotions of anger or sentiments, it is best to wear your Sherlock hats and start thinking.

Did you read it elsewhere?

Fake news is not easily circulated beyond social networking channels. If you simply read a particular news article on Facebook and found no trace of it elsewhere, it is a good sign that it is meant to attract clicks. Check if the story is reported on sites like ABC News, AP, NYT and others.

Go to the original source... and check the URL

Fake news is often a result of an unknown site reporting it and widely publicising it. If your regular site has picked up the article and if you have your doubts about it, go to the original source and read their "About Us" page. It says a lot about the site. Also, make sure the URL isn't odd. For instance, abcnews.com is a legit news site, but abcnews.com.co is not. Basically, if the domain ends with com.co or co.com, it should certainly trigger an alert.

Quotes help in the authentication

A real news article will have quotes (at least one or more) from professionals and experts in the particular field. It is also best to verify who is quoted in the story and if the same quote has appeared on other reliable sources.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Every story has a picture to go with. And it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Usually, fake news articles will have old images that have been linked to past events. You can simply right-click on the image and select search for the image on Google. You will know how old the picture is, especially if it is a controversial one.