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How to spot misinformation online

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 01, 2021

Tips and features from Google

Ahead of the International Fact-Checking Day on April 2, Google has shared some tips and features to help users better spot misinformation online.

Misinformation is one of the major online threats which has been amplified over the last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic. Elections around the world. Fact-checkers worldwide have had a busy year. More than 50,000 new fact checks surfaced on Google Search over the past year, with all fact checks receiving more than 2.4 billion impressions in Search in that timeframe,” Google said.

On the bright side, users are actively seeking evidence to confirm or refute a piece of information they’re uncertain about.

“Over the past 12 months, Google searches in India for “is it true that...” were higher than “how to make coffee,” and that’s saying something given last year’s Dalgona craze,” as per the tech giant.

Here are four tips from the tech major to help users better spot misinformation online:

Search image for context

Often times, pictures are shared online that can be taken out of context or edited to mislead.

In such cases, users can search with an image by right-clicking on a picture and selecting “Search Google for Image” to verify the context of the images.

Google will display a set of results based on where the image has appeared online before and in what context. Users can see f the image has been altered or tampered with or if it has been taken out of context.

On mobile, they can search with image by touching and holding the image.

Get the full coverage

It is always good to get the full story when it comes to a piece of news or a significant event. Users can see how and whether different news outlets have reported on the same event to get the full picture. This can be done through the Full Coverage option for a topic on Google News.

“Make sure to click through to “Full Coverage” if the option is available,” it said.

Fact Check

The tech giant also provides two major tools for fact-checking- Fact Check Explorer and Fact Check Markup Tool.

Users can verify particular information by searching on the topic in the Fact Check Explorer.

“Fact-checkers may have addressed that random story your relative sent you in the group chat – or a similar one that will point you in the right direction to find out what really happened,” it said.

The Fact Check Explorer collects over 1 lakh fact checks from reputable publishers around the world, it said.

Verify location with Google Maps, Earth

For stories happening in far off places, users can verify locations where the events are based from Google Maps or Google Earth.

“False stories about events happening in far-off places can spread due to our lack of familiarity with their location,” it said.

Users can get a sense of where a picture is from by checking the place on Google Earth or looking at the Street View of a location on Google Maps in regions where it is available.

Google has announced multiple initiatives over the past year. In January this year, the Google News Initiative launched a $3 million Open Fund for the same.

It will also be launching the first GNI University Verification Challenge across Asia and in India

to celebrate International Fact-Checking Day.

The challenge is meant to boost awareness and increase verification knowledge among students, running across two weeks in seven languages- English, Bahasa Indonesia, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai.

“Students can register as teams of three to participate. After the challenge, students and journalists alike can level up their verification skills through workshops that will be conducted in multiple languages across the region,” it said.

Published on April 01, 2021

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