Social networks encourage us to share content because it moves us, amuses us or makes us indignant, even if we have not always tried (or succeeded) to verify it. In fact, it is often difficult to distinguish the true from the false, especially when it comes to an image or a video. However, there are simple techniques to stop being fooled, believed, or worse, relay an into without knowing it. The Decoders team has chosen six to explain to you.
When we are faced with content that does not present a clear source or conclusive element – for example an assertion whose provenance we do not know, or a quote attributed to a personality without specifying the context in which it would have been pronounced, it is better to consider by default that it is false, rather than the opposite – “when in doubt, I shared” , a reflection unfortunately too often heard.
It is rare for information to come directly from a social network; it generally has an external origin: a news media, for example. We must try to find if another media that we know or in which we trust repeats the same information in identical terms.
If a media that you do not know broadcasts information that you cannot find anywhere else, it’s better to be suspicious. Of course, it is possible that a single Internet user or a single blog has a “scoop” that would have escaped all serious media with substantial resources. However, it remains exceptional.
It often happens that Internet users are fooled by another key element: the date. Among the poisons that we often see circulating are articles, images or videos that are not erroneous, but old. A news item several years old will be presented as current, for example, creating confusion, which can have significant consequences.
The error is all the easier to make when the article in question may come from a serious and recognized source but may simply be old. In general, the date of publication of a press article is mentioned from the title area. It is also sometimes found in the URL (the address in the browser bar) of the article.
Verifying an image may seem more laborious. However, there is a tool that makes it easy to find context, reverse phone lookup. It is possible via Google, either directly using a right click if you are using the Chrome browser (right click on an image > “search for this image on Google”), or by downloading the image to your computer, then by going to images.google.com, clicking on the little camera icon to the right of the search bar, then uploading their image. Reverse image search finds other occurrences of an image. Useful if you want to know its original context, or more simply its date: if an image has already been posted several years ago, it no longer has the same meaning.
To further simplify the search for images, there are several extensions, small programs that you add to your Internet browser and which open up other functionalities. Let us cite Tin Eye or Rev Eye, which are used to perform reverse image searches; or In Vid, for videos from screenshots taken automatically.
However, beyond all the technological tools, the best weapon against disinformation remains common sense. This already involves avoiding sharing without thinking, even “just in case” “in doubt”: we thus risk contributing to spreading an into. Social networks play on our emotions: we will tend to share what we find funny, shocking, sad. However, emotion does not help reflection. Taking the time to reflect on what you share or see can help put aside emotion and bring the intellect back to the fore. In any case, taking a few moments to ask yourself the question cannot hurt.
Amanda Byers is a graduate of Columbia, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Zobuz’s entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Buzz worthy.
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