13/02/2018 13:17 SAST | Updated 13/02/2018 13:17 SAST

How You Can Spot (And Avoid) Fake News

Media Monitoring Africa's William Bird says credibility is key, and shows you how to establish it.

Thomas Faull via Getty Images

This past week has been confusing for journalists and other South Africans who want to know when Zuma will go. Several times, incorrect information has circulated in social media, which just fuels anxiety about the matter.

HuffPost spoke to Media Monitoring Africa's William Bird, and he believes "there are a number of clear practical steps" people can take to ensure they do not fall for fake news.

1. Credible news sources

"Make sure you are getting your news from a legitimate, trusted or credible source – that means knowing which entities are trustworthy, and that means going to the brands that have been around for a while," he said.

"I'm not saying the new ones should not be trusted, but certainly in times like this you want to go to a media entity that is at least exercising a fair share of precaution before they start pushing out news and information."

2. Social media can be wrong

He says people should choose which accounts to retweet or repost, as there are many fake accounts.

"Be very cautious about information that you see on social media – on Facebook or Twitter. For example, unless it is from a reputable account, chances are you should probably make sure you check it out before you do anything like retweeting or sharing it," he said.

3. Sources, sources, sources

"If you go to a link and the site has no sources attributed, or [there is no journalist credited] when you get there – the default is that you should not [believe it]," Bird stressed.

4. Verification sites

"You can go to sites like Newstools, where you can check if the information you are reading is from a credible source," he said.

On the site, you click the KnowNews tab.You then need to download this extension, to help you identify whether the site you are browsing contains credible or dodgy news.

5. Don't just believe one news agency

"One of the best things you can do to ensure that you are more informed is to make sure that you consume news from different and diverse sources," Bird said.

He makes an example: "If the ANC NEC makes a formal announcement that is legit, it will be carried by all our news agencies, not just one of them with the story."