Election 2022: How to spot ‘fake news’ online

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Election 2022: How to spot ‘fake news’ online

With the election just two sleeps away, new data reveals how many Australians are confident about identifying “fake news”.

Australians are being warned to be wary of fake news and misinformation ahead of the federal election this weekend.

Alarmingly, new research has revealed a staggering nine out of 10 people believe fake news had the ability to impact Australians and their vote and more than half of the national population say they have believed a fake news story in the past.

The study, commissioned by Digital security and privacy company Avast, also found 38 per cent of people aren’t confident in their ability to identify fake news online, with the youngest of the respondents, aged 18-24, being the least confident to do so.

In order to avoid fake news, Australians have been advised to stop relying solely on social media to source and consume news and current affairs and instead read a variety of sources and to be critical of free “news” sites, as they rely on contributors and not a staff of qualified journalists.

Avast security expert Stephen Kho said fake news was often used to generate clicks onto a web page to improve ad revenue and to influence public thought.

“The problem with misinformation is that it is becoming more widespread as we all become increasingly more connected online, and fake news sites are interconnected to amplify fake news further across different channels,” he said.

“In recent research, our AI team has found out that 17.9 per cent of hyperlinks of misinformation sites link to other misinformation domains. If users visit a misinformation site, the risk is higher that they end up in a rabbit hole of misinformation sites.

“As information from all corners of the internet is being posted, shared and liked in the lead up to voting, it’s increasingly important that Australians are aware of how to spot misinformation and misleading news that isn’t based in solid fact.”

Mr Kho recommended Australians always check the source by questioning if they had ever heard of it and research it to see if anything had been reported about it.

He said the headline was another important thing to consider, and to check if it had a connection to the story.

Mr Kho suggested readers should always check the publication date, regardless if the news was real or fake, to make sure they were reading the most current news.

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