In response to my plea to fact-check what you post online, I received this response:  “I don’t know how to fact check anything, can you post it as a tip please?”

I’d be glad to offer you some suggestions, but I think you’re wrong about not knowing how to fact check. If someone knocked on your door and offered you to sell you some magic seeds that grew a money vine, I don’t think you’d buy them. First, because your common sense would tell you that something was up and secondly, because if there was such a thing as a money vine, you probably would have heard about it by now.

Common sense is the first line of defense when it comes to fact-checking. Does it even sound believable? For example, how plausible is it that the founder of Facebook is going to give everyone who shares a post $100? Why would he do it? How would he track it? When have you ever heard of the head of a company just randomly tossing out money?  To quote Judge Judy, “It doesn’t make sense. And if it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true.” HoaxSlayer is a great site to look for the latest social media hoaxes.

zuckerberg-scam

Is it anywhere else but in this post you’re sharing?  If someone famous dies or something outrageous happens, it’s going to make the news. And when I say news, I mean a major news network, a newspaper, your local TV station etc… Especially the local stations or newspaper where the event is alleged to have happened. I know there are debates about which outlets are telling the truth on certain subjects But if someone is allegedly kidnapping children from malls, it would make the news.  If something is supposed to have happened in Spokane, try Googling Spokane TV and newspaper sites. Then search for any mention of the event.

mall-abduction-fake

Remember, there are sites that specialize in making up outright outrageous lies just to get people excited.  The first line of defense against hoaxes is to ask yourself if something is reasonable. Don’t share it “just in case” it’s true. You wouldn’t pay someone $40 for magic seeds just in case they work, would you?

Then look for multiple sources. Not that three people shared it on Facebook. Look for newspapers, TV stations, and national websites.  Using that filter will protect you from 90% of hoaxes.

~ Cynthia