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Fact-Checking Social Media Engaging with social media information can be beneficial; nevertheless, it gets more challenging when numerous points of view appear to contradict one another.

By Kavya Pillai

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Mika Baumeister

To make a difference and bring a change to our world, social media becomes one's vital tool. Engaging with social media information can be beneficial; nevertheless, it gets more challenging when numerous points of view appear to contradict one another. Is social media content accurate, or has it been influenced by misinformation? When reading internet content, you should be thoughtful.

However on social media people often share knowledge about topics that are important to them, inaccurate information can arise, even unintentionally. Fact-checking will help you discern between facts and views. Rupali Hasija a fashion and lifestyle digital content creator shared, "People put a lot of pressure to talk about international conflicts and news. however no post or comment seemed to be enough as there was always some backlash."

The Basics

Fact-checking is a method of interacting with information sources to confirm that the information under discussion is correct. It can also assist you in better understanding what you currently know or wish to learn about more. "It's essential for us to get our facts straight before we upload anything. This way, we keep our credibility and ensure that our audience gets accurate information. This responsibility is heavy, but it's also a beautiful opportunity to make a positive impact," said Sakchi Jain a Chartered Accountant and Finfluencer said.

When Do We Do This?

While on social media, it's not always evident when to fact-check. Knowing when to fact-check is an important ability (Pew Research Center, 2021). You should view online content with an open mind. However, it might be difficult to determine which content to fact-check. So ask yourself the following questions when trying to decide when to fafact-check. Jain shared, "There are several ways to ensure the information we share is accurate. We go through articles, magazines, internet blogs, websites, and newspapers. But we can't rely on just one source; we have to cross-check with others. It's also essential to check the main sources directly. For example, if we're sharing the RBI guideline we make sure to confirm it from the RBI website." Hasija added to this by saying "reading up on articles on google and looking at reviews on youtube is a must especially for skin and beauty campaigns so as to avoid misinforming the audience."

1. What are the source's incentives?

An incentive could help explain why someone is posting information on social media. People who represent a firm, product, or political position may be compensated for advocating anything. Musicians, artists, and other influencers may publish posts that spark greater debate about their work. "In today's age of fake news, fact- checking is a must. But there's something even worse than that that's been around for a while, agenda driven news. Basically the colouring of incidents, or the mis-contextualising of certain events is something that many especially mainstream media are using to spread information that's half baked, badly researched, and plainly driving certain agendas", shared Andre Borgas a content creator. As a result, social media influencers may not always consider perspectives other than their own when sharing something that many people will see online.

2. What is the Motive?

Locate the information's original source. Is the data, for instance, coming from an individual or a government organization like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? It's crucial to take into account if the original poster intended to spark an online conversation or to express a viewpoint. Public re-sharing of the material is frequently desired by government agencies. Resharing material containing personal perspectives can cause the audience's comprehension of the subject to change. Learning anything via secondary, as opposed to primary, sources might potentially have unfavorable effects. This is particularly likely to happen when someone interacts with content and shares it without fully comprehending any potential background ininformation

3. Who is this for?

Knowing who the intended audience is will help you comprehend why an online post is being made. This is a crucial component in distinguishing between opinion and fact. It also helps you determine whether the original poster intended for the post to attract notice. One instance is when well-known individuals post something that is contentious or controversial online knowing that it would garner attention. Do you wish to gain a deeper understanding of the material once you have identified the possible causes for the content? Has the material gone "viral," that is, been copied, shared, and distributed over numerous social media platforms? If so, determining whether to verify the information is even more crcrucial.

4. Is the content alarming?

The simple reason something doesn't make logic or doesn't line up with what you already know to be true may be your reason to fact-check it. This factor may play a significant role in your decision regarding when to fact-check. Fact-checking may therefore relate to a cause or topic you are passionate about and wish to learn more about. "People expect you to be aware and to speak about a plethora of issues. And I myself have fallen prey to responding to something quickly as more updates are coming out. So it's important to be accurate and have verified news you're talking about rather than being fast," said Borgas.

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