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Not everything you read online is true

Online rumours are easily spread: Think before you share

by Gemma Melling

Not everything you see online is true – so it’s more important than ever to “Think before you share” when posting online and to social media.

Misinformation can be spread quickly online – often by well-meaning people who like, share and repeat the claims they see on channels like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

Now the Think Before You Share campaign is reminding everyone to be cautious when accessing information on the internet and social media, because not everything presented as ‘fact’ is true – and sometimes untrue information can have serious, real life consequences.

To help you fact-check and decide whether claims made online can be trusted, consider this simple checklist BEFORE sharing information online or in person:

Source – Does the information come from a trusted source? Is the person who sent it to you the originator of the information? If not, who is? Do you know them? Do you trust them? Checking these things can help you determine if a source is reliable.

Headline – Always read beyond the headline – they don’t always tell the full story. Always check the date and read to the end before you share articles with family and friends.

Analyse – If something sounds unbelievable, it very well might be. Don’t assume because something is published online its fact. Anyone can put information online and not everyone shares information for a good reason.

Retouched – Does the image or video look as though it has been altered? It might be edited, or show an unrelated place or event.

Error – Look out for mistakes – typos, spelling mistakes or things that don’t make sense could indicate the information is false. Official guidance or things shared by trusted sources like the Police or the local authority will always have been carefully checked so should have no errors.

If in doubt, don’t share. You could be helping to pass along rumours and misinformation to people who trust you.