As South Africa grapples to make sense of information with an increase of fake news sites and paid Twitter accounts attacking media outlets, Media Monitoring Africa is warning consumers to be vigilant.
The Huffington Post South Africa, Sunday Times and Talk Radio 702 were targeted by the fake news compilers over the weekend with inaccurate reports.
Head of policy at Media Monitoring Africa Thandi Smith says there are 5 signs that people should be on the look out for.
1). Check the URL and make sure it is in line with the news page or media house. A fake news site can sometimes have a number in it instead of letters to create confusion.
- This is a URL for a fake site http://t1meslive.co.za/
- This is the legitimate URL for Times Live http://www.timeslive.co.za/
2). Check the spelling of the account name. Although it might look legitimate, the accounts are often not spelled correctly, or have alternative spellings.
3). A genuine article will usually have sources and people that you can research. Google the names. A fake news site will have anonymous sources.
4). Reputable media houses will have credible adverts on their pages. Fake news sites often have pornographic adverts. That should raise red flags.
5). Research the author of the article you're reading. Use Google to see other works produced by the journalist named. That will give you an indication of the authenticity of the story.
Smith also gave a handy guide to some of the known fake news sites to be on the lookout for:
- imzansi.co.za http://imzansi.co.za/
- Eye news http://eyenews.co.za/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi
- T1mes Live http://t1meslive.co.za/
- viralbru http://www.viralbru.com/
- Pretoria Live http://pretorialive.co.za/
- City Sun http://citysun.co.za/
- Mzansi Stories http://www.mzansistories.com/
- African News Updates http://africanewsupdates.com/
- Mzansi Live http://mzansilive.co.za/
- Live Monitor http://livemonitor.co.za