Now, more than ever, communication is key in leftist spaces. We need to know what’s happening under this administration in order to plan our resistance. Born of the internet in a post-fact age, however, “fake news” misleads and further impedes communication among our comrades. Think: where what is satire at best and fabricated fear mongering at worst emboldens fascists, leftists who spread inaccurate or entirely false stories throw an unnecessary curveball at their own movement. Not to mention, when We Angry Leftists share real stuff interspersed with fake stuff, we only help the administration label credible media  as “FAKE NEWS” — in other words, we lose credibility when we share un-credible information and draw attention away from the real things we should be very angry about right now.

We don’t have to convince fascists of our sensibility, however leftists should be concerned with the fake news phenomenon because promoting it weakens our resistance. We confuse our comrades and ourselves when we share things that didn’t happen as if they are breaking atrocities to which we must respond. So here’s how you can tell fact from fiction before you share

How do I tell if something is fake news?

Google is free!

Managing editor of Snopes Brooke Binkowski says if the headline incites a visceral reaction, don’t share it — at least not at first. First, look it up and see if you can verify with another credible source. Pictures and video can be good, but try to find printed information from sources in the center of this chart — the chart has some flaws, including that it’s a fairly shallow overview of all the fake news sources littering the internet (also, I trust Occupy Democrats and U.S. Uncut about as far as I could throw Steve Bannon), but the stuff in the gray circle is generally top-notch.

Subscribe for updates from sources in the gray circle. You’ll be more skeptical of stuff that sounds like misinformation because it probably will differ from the stuff you read first from these publications. You can get notifications on your phone, too! I get updates on my laptop from The New York Times and Washington Post, and iPhone notifications from Buzzfeed News (emphasis on News) and BBC. Also, WashPost gives free student subscriptions. Go register with your student email right now. 

 

Pro Tip: If you run out of articles on the Times or another site that limits how many articles you can read per month, open an incognito window and continue reading.

 

Sites with partisan, aggressive titles like “Occupy The Left” or “Radical Opinion Street Jounral” (not real sites, to my knowledge) are usually super sketch. Refer to the chart, but if you can’t find it on there go to

 

Snopes and Politifact  are good websites for fact checking news stories. They’re non-partisan and are really good for scoping out a story’s factuality.  BONUS: Politifact made the Truth-O-Meter measurement system for the election this past year, and with it they rated candidates’ honesty by how true their campaign statements were.  Politifact still uses the Truth-O-Meter to rate representatives’ truthfulness.

Follow hyperlinks, if they’re present. If what you’re reading presents pre-established information, especially statistics or references to video footage, but doesn’t in-text hyperlink, up your media literacy haunches should go. Hyperlinks show there are other sources who can verify the information presented in the current piece. In other words, these publications want you to trust them, and you should recognize that effort as a token of a publication’s credibility.

 

But please take time to hold pieces accountable. DO click the hyperlink. Don’t take it at face value. Sometimes articles will link to Times pieces, for instance, in reference to a tidbit taken out of context as to make the aforementioned sketchy articles appear less flimsy.

Okay so I have the real stuff, now what to I do with it?

Share with context, especially if the article has an emotional, clickbait-y title, which can appear from any source, credible or not. If you have time, make your posts as interactive as your non-news shares. If you voice an opinion, it’s cool to cite information you found in the article to support your thoughts, but you don’t have to do that. But it’s always #Cool to encourage dialogue among comrades!

 

If you have time, quoting part of the article is PRIME. So like, read the article, find a quote capturing the essence of, or an important detail from the article, then copy & paste that tidbit as your caption. This lets your followers know you read the article, and it hints at what you thought was important. This is also good for people who aren’t allowed to put their opinion on the internet for work-related or other reasons.

 

Video content is cool, firsthand accounts are cool, but  follow the thread, if not for your followers then to keep yourself updated.  Livestreams end and usually have some sort of follow up. Photo evidence as well as Facebook statuses can be updated or even debunked in a matter of minutes.

 

Even if you’re viewing and not sharing, make sure you know where you left off on the story before you tell people what you think is happening. If you haven’t checked for updates but are posting a recap or your response to what happened, let people know how “fresh” that information is.
We work with mainstream journalists to strengthen communication among comrades within our communities. We rely on factual, thorough news to inform us of how the system is operating so we can best dismantle it from the outside. But we can’t stand up to a system when stories written to draw our attention away from real danger push us down — we can’t fight back with our hands tied up in misinformation.