With great freedom, comes great responsibility. That famous Spider-Man quote holds true for the internet as well. With the amount of freedom, one has to post stories online, it is our responsibility to make sure that what we read is true before spreading it amongst our friends.
Thankfully, Google makes the process a little simpler. In a blog post on its site, the search engine giant has detailed steps that a general user can take to make sure the story they are reading is true. This is even more important in the current climate we find ourselves in, one that is besieged by the threat of the coronavirus.
Check your sources
This is something that holds true for both the author and the reader. Always make sure you check your sources and verify the facts. A journalist would normally have more tools at his disposal to do this, but you do not need to feel left out as a reader. If you feel like a particular story makes sensationalist claim, it is more than likely to be false.
You can use Google to verify the story’s source. In the search engine, this can be done within the search results itself. Google has a small menu icon with three dots you can click on with every search result. You can click on this to display more information about the site. You can verify if other sources are reporting the same story by repeating the search with the website’s domain name excluded.
For example – If a story on ABC.com seems too good to be true, simply repeat the search with the story’s headline but with ‘– site:abc.com’ at the end. This will exclude all results from the site and show you what the others are saying.
Check if an image is accurate or being used in the right context
Google Chrome allows you to search any image by just right clicking on it and selecting ‘Search Google for Image’, Google will then look for other places online where the image has been used, allowing you to see if the image is legitimate or being used in the wrong context for the story you are reading.
A lot of times, publications tend to alter images to fit their narrative. This method can also show you the original unedited photo, so that you can verify if it is legitimate.
Cross-verify with multiple sources
Always be sure to get a second opinion. Search for the topic that the article you are reading mentions and look for more coverage by other sources. If it is a trending topic, chances it will show up when you click ‘News’ under the Google search bar.
This allows you to view all the sources that have covered that topic in one place, so that you can make an informed decision.
Use Google’s Fact Check Explorer
This tool makes it super easy to verify a story’s claims by simply searching for it. Head over to Fact Check Explorer and just search for the story in the bar. There are even recent search trends below the search bar that will show you the top ranked searches for that day.
Google will immediately let you know if the story’s claims are true.
Use Google’s Street View to verify a location
A lot of times its difficult to verify whether a story is true or not without visiting the location of the incident yourself. Using Street View, you can at the very least double check to ensure that the location matches up to what the story is describing. You can also verify whether a photo is from the place it claims to be from by using Street View to navigate around the location virtually.
This isn’t better than the real thing but it’s a nice tool to have to at least complete base verifications.