Friday, January 21

Steps to detect a hoax according to the Civil Guard

Have you ever wondered how you can distinguish news from hoaxes or ‘fake news’ circulating on the Internet?

During the pandemic we have seen how the hoaxes and misinformation giving rise to (or fostered by) denial and conspiracy currents. The same happens, for example, in electoral campaign periods.

The most common and easiest way to spread these ‘fake news’, hoaxes or rumors is usually through WhatsApp groups. Surely more than once a long ‘copy and paste’ text has reached your mobile phone like the old ‘chains’ that were sent by email.

These texts always promise to reveal very valuable information that is not being published anywhere and that no media is talking about, with a clear interest behind. This does not have to be a text. It can also be a video taken out of context, or a photo montage.

To check if it is something real or invented and manipulated, the key is in look at a number of details.

How to identify a hoax

When identifying a hoax, the Civil Guard recommends observing if the medium that publishes the information is known (in the event that the message arrives as a publication of a web page either through a link or a screenshot), if there are more media that carry that information or check that it is not a page of satire or humor.

If it looks like a “real” web page, scroll all the way to read in the ‘footer’ or footer who created it, its terms of use, privacy policy and contact. Usually the fake web pages do not usually give so many details.

We must also look at the sources citing the information, if they are official bodies, real research centers, professionals and experts in the field or if, on the contrary, they are anonymous or difficult to identify sources. In addition, you must observe if the page in question appears publication date.

If you receive information from WhatsApp groups of this style, bring out your most critical side and question what you are reading. Search the Internet if there are major media dealing with the matter, if the sources you mention exist. If you quote official organizations but the information is of doubtful credibility, look for it on the web or official profiles of their social networks to find the official publication and contrast the information.

Do you trust the person who posted the information? That is, is it an accredited journalist with first and last names or a Twitter ‘bot’ account without a profile photo? The declarations belong to a professional (eg a doctor) expert in the subject being treated?

Also, if you have received the information by WhatsApp, always distrust the messages that come to you and in which it appears written about them ‘forwarded many times’.

From the WhatsApp Help Center warn about this type in mass mailings: «Messages can be forward to a maximum of five chats at a time. However, if a message is chain-forwarded to five or more chats, that is, it was forwarded at least five times after it was sent by the original sender, a double arrow icon and the label “Forwarded many times”. To keep conversations on WhatsApp intimate and personal, These messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time. In this way, the spread of rumors, viral messages and false news is also minimized.

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