Charlotte Foster


Why fake news and misinformation is sabotaging the election

Why fake news and misinformation is sabotaging the election

After a messy election campaign, a lot of Australians have been left feeling confused about who they should be voting for at the polls this weekend. 

With conflicting media reports about both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese, it’s easy to get lost in what is the correct information. 

A recent report published by Avast, a global leader in digital security and privacy, has warned Australians to be wary of fake news and misinformation when casting their vote. 

The new research commissioned by Avast found that over half of Australians say they have believed a fake news story in the past, and a staggering 9 in 10 believe that fake news has the ability to impact Australians and their vote in the upcoming election. 

Stephen Kho, cyber security expert at Avast says, “Sensationalist fake news is often used to generate clicks onto a webpage to improve ad revenue. It has also been used to influence public thought…it’s increasingly important that Australians are aware of how to spot misinformation and misleading news that isn’t based in solid fact.”

Concerningly, the research found that 38% of Australians are not confident in their ability to identify fake news online, as Stephen Kho recommends readers run through these three criteria when assessing a news source for misinformation.

Check the source

Readers should question the source, ask themselves if they have ever heard of it, and assess the source's appearance. 

Readers should also research the source, to see what has been reported on the source and if the source has a vested interest in subjective reporting. 

Check the headline

Clickbait articles are designed to garner as many clicks as possible and often have very catchy headlines. 

It is therefore important for readers to question articles where the headline and the actual story have little or no connection, and short articles bringing little to no insights.

Check the publication date

Readers should check the date of articles, regardless of if they are real or fake, to make sure they are reading the most current information.

Stephen Kho also shared helpful tips on how to avoid fake news, and how to spot blatant misinformation.

Avoid relying on social media

While social media giants are making an effort to flag fake news shared within their networks, it's best to avoid consuming news and current affairs via social media news feeds.

Instead, go directly to a news site you trust.

Read a variety of sources before forming an opinion

Reading multiple, reliable news sources, can help people avoid fake news. If one article is reporting a story with different facts, the news could be fake.

Image credits: Getty Images

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