Our recent article on Malware attacking iPhones and iPads prompted this question from Vicji: “I submitted your information on the iPhone Malware problem to Snopes and they hadn’t heard of it. How do I know this information is accurate? I am tired of forwarding things only to discover the information is not correct.”
In this case, not being on Snopes could be a good thing. Snopes.com is a site that reports on urban legends and hoaxes. If you search there, you can expect to find results that have to with popular urban myths like the mysterious person lurking in the store parking lot waiting to knock you out with perfume or the numerous Facebook frauds that say you can somehow change your privacy settings or legal right on Facebook by posting something.
A legitimate news story like this Malware attack or a plane crash or election probably wouldn’t be there at all unless there was some type of fraud associated with it.
You’re right not to want to spread information until you can verify that it is true. I’ve talked before about how spreading falsehoods on Facebook has nearly ruined the lives of some victims.
Here are methods of verifying a story. You could just search Google or Yahoo or Bing and see what types of results you see on the topic and if those results come from sources you’re familiar with like reputable news sources of the company itself. Notice my results here include Reuters, the BBC and the Wall Street Journal – all fairly reputable publications.
Another thing you could do is check put reputable sites that deal with the subject. For tech information, besides WorldStart, try sites like CNET, Mac Addict or the Tech News section of major news sources like CNN, Fox, MSNBC or whatever news outlet you trust most.
For another popular topic of hoaxes, celebrity deaths, you could not only check news outlets, but also sites that deal in celebrities like EW.com, ET Online or People.
Consider the reputation of the site. As far as I know, WorldStart doesn’t have a reputation for outlandish hoaxes.
One good tell for hoaxes is that there’s usually something just a bit outlandish about them. They promise free stuff for re-posting pictures or say that donations will be made for sharing statuses. Somehow posting a status on Facebook can change your legal rights.
But even legitimate news sources aren’t immune from falling for hoaxes. Watching news this time of the year, you might think that police departments scan candy because there have been a rash of treats being tampered with or that there’s an increased danger of black cats being mutilated or killed at Halloween time.
While there’s so much of a general perception that this is true that candy is x-rayed and kitten adoptions are banned, there aren’t any actual cases to back any of this up.
The number of incidents of children actually be poisoned by strangers at Halloween is so far still hanging at about zero and actual numbers show no increase in the deaths or mutilation of black cats at Halloween.
Thanks for being vigilant Vickie! The truth is out there.