Skip to main content

BlissMark may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

5 telltale signs that a social media post needs to be fact checked

Nearly one-fifth of all adults get their news primarily from social media. And while it may be more convenient than reading the newspaper in the morning or watching the evening news, getting your information solely from your social media feed comes with some significant drawbacks; the most concerning is the prevalence of fake news.

That same survey from the Pew Research Center found that adults who rely on social media for news were more likely to be exposed to misinformation and less likely to know the facts about politics and current events.

Just because fake news runs rampant on social media doesn’t mean you are powerless against it. There are some telltale signs that indicate whether you need to fact-check before you share a post.
Group of friends looking at a phone with surprise and joy

The source doesn’t look familiar

If you come across a suspect post, you should first look at who is posting it. Check out the original poster’s account to see what kind of content they regularly publish and if they are verified. If it’s not the account of a professional news organization, be extra mindful of the stories they share.
If the post links to a news article, you should also research the publication that initially posted it. Fake news sites are designed to be difficult to detect, using names that sound similar to reputable sources, like Sometimes, these websites will state that they are meant to be satire or fake news. Others will provide vague or incomplete information on their about pages. If you’re still not sure, do a quick Google search of the website to learn more about its reputation.

The headline seems too ridiculous to be true

It wouldn’t be the first time that satire site, The Onion, has fooled someone into believing their stories are real. Satire publications and parody social media accounts work hard to make people laugh. But sometimes, the real news seems so outlandish that it can be hard to determine what’s true and what’s poking fun at the truth. Be sure to read beyond the headline and research who is posting. And for really wild claims, be sure to check out the information on a fact-checking website like Snopes or

Social media apps on a smartphone
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You had an immediate emotional response

When people see a post that resonates with them emotionally (whether good or bad), they are more likely to interact with it and share it. Fake news posters take advantage of this fact to get as many eyes as they can on their stories. This helps misinformation spread around social media, with people making the gut decision to share without verifying whether the information is accurate. Consider how you feel after reading the post; if you feel enraged or validated, take a moment to fact-check before you post.

The photos and videos are low-quality or misleading

Images and videos can be particularly deceptive and a little harder to verify than articles. But media can be edited or presented in ways that support the poster’s agenda. Watch out for these red flags in videos and photos:

  • Blurry, low-quality images and videos
  • Added text
  • Prominent figures doing things that seem out of character
  • No photographer/creator/website credited

With images, run a reverse image search on Google to see if other versions of the image exist or have been edited differently. You can also search for pics and videos on fact-checking websites.

If the media includes data or facts, Google them to see if they’re true. You should also verify the location and date of the photo or video and if the description or caption matches that information. Be extra cautious of sharing screenshots of other social media posts, which are easy to edit, and images of only text, which often don’t include sources for the information.

Woman standing outside looking at her phone
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The “facts” are unverified

Whether you’re looking at a social media post, image, or article, all the facts included in the post should be cited. Often, fake stories will have official-sounding sources. Once you look deeper into these sources, however, you will often find that it doesn’t support the claim at all. Other times, the information is stated as fact without any citation. If a source is not provided, you may be able to ask the poster where they got the information from. Or, you can use Google or one of the previously mentioned fact-checking sites to research the info.

Despite the best efforts of social media companies, fake news isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. While these stories can’t be avoided, you can learn how to fact-check and identify them so you can stop believing and spreading misinformation. Look out for the five signs above and use all the tools at your disposal to prevent fake news from taking over your timeline. With a little bit of effort, you’ll be a fact-checking pro in no time.

Editors' Recommendations

Shannon Cooper
Freelance writer
Shannon Cooper has written about everything from pet care and travel to finance and plumbing in her seven years as a writer…
Do these 8 things to be an ally for social justice
activities ally social justice people volunteering food bank

Social justice can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. defines the term as “fair treatment of all people in a society, including respect for the rights of minorities and equitable distribution of resources among members of a community.”

The way people seek and achieve social justice will vary widely based on the unique needs and demographics of the communities where they live and work. But there’s a single, simple common denominator that can help you by an ally for social justice no matter where you are: helping those in need and being aware of the circumstances that created that need in the first place. Those are arguably the two most important branches of understanding and working toward more social justice for all.

Read more
Do protests really work? What you need to know
Person holding a sign at a protest

If you’ve only seen a protest on the news or in movies, it’s almost impossible to know what it’s really like to take part. Simply put, a protest is an event where people gather to express their views about a societal ill. These events can have many goals and many different ways of reaching those goals. But why do people protest? And do protests really work? If you are curious to learn more about this sort of activism, read on.

Why do protests happen?
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Protests happen when people want to bring attention to a social issue or can no longer endure an injustice. Though the specific events that lead to a rally vary from situation to situation, the primary motivators are often the same. However, researchers from the Netherlands believe there are five main reasons why people protest.
• Grievances: people are upset about something and demand a change
• Efficacy: the belief that policy or societal conditions can be improved
• Identity: if someone identifies with a group, they are more likely to participate in demonstrations that support the group
• Emotions: feelings, like anger, prompt people to act
• Social embeddedness: people unite as a group to protest shared grievances
These factors inspire people to mobilize and take to the streets for a common goal.

Read more
What you need to know about traveling after you’re vaccinated for COVID-19
Woman wearing a mask sitting at the airport

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may finally be in sight. As of the end of May, over 60 percent of the total U.S. population have had at least one vaccination dose, and with the summer right around the corner, people are antsy to start venturing out beyond their local grocery store. Travel is set to make a huge comeback this year, but is it safe, even if you’re vaccinated? Do you still need to quarantine if you do plan to take a trip? Keep reading to learn more about traveling when you’re fully vaccinated, which regulations still apply, and how to be as safe as possible.

Can people who are vaccinated travel?
Per the current CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people are less likely to contract and spread the coronavirus and can travel within the United States at a lower risk to themselves. For international travel, it’s crucial to consider the state of the crisis in the destination to determine whether it’s safe to visit. Remember, you are not fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

Read more