How to recognise fake news

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Dealing with disinformation How to recognise fake news

Fake news spreads rapidly, especially on social media and via messenger services. There are also countless videos and images circulating on the war in Ukraine, some of which turn out to be false or unverified. For this reason, it is all the more important not to spread this type of report in the heat of the moment without checking first.

2 Min. Lesedauer

Social media apps on the smartphone

False claims are dangerous: fake news about the war in Ukraine are circulating on social media and messenger services in particular.

Foto: picture alliance/dpa/CTK/Martin Macak Gregor

Three steps to identify fake news:

Apply critical scrutiny to a report rather than forwarding it right away

Fake news or pictures are often spread by private individuals not out of malice but because they are worried. Fake news can potentially fuel insecurity or spread panic. The more emotional or dramatic a message is, the more frequently it is shared. This is why it is so important not to participate but to stay calm instead. For this reason, it is important not to forward questionable content without checking it first. Do not share any content that seems dubious to you. 

Check the sources and sender of the message

It always helps to compare dubious news with two other sources. The current news situation is reflected in the media offered by the public news channels and by respectable daily and weekly newspapers. Pictures and video material from the war zones is subjected to regular, up-to-date reviews by the fact-checking departments of many reputable media. You will also find information on official government websites: information on the war in Ukraine is currently available on and on the website of the Federal Foreign Office, as well as on the social media channels operated by these institutions.

Always check who posted the video, picture or message. Is that person the originator of the material or has it already been forwarded several times? The use of a real name can be an indication that an account is authentic. On social media, it is best to stick to the verified accounts of official bodies and institutions (recognisable by the blue check mark). In the case of a website, check the legal disclaimer. This should include the name of an actual person responsible for the website content and a full address, for example – not just an anonymous e-mail address. 

You can check whether an image has been manipulated or is an original by carrying out a reverse image search: the image or URL is uploaded to a search engine and the origin of the image is displayed. A reverse image search also enables you to find out whether the image is current or outdated, for example.

Use fact checks

Public service media and other independent organisations check individual items of fake news and set the record straight. Among other things, the independent research centre Correctiv documents and analyses current and internationally circulating disinformation and false reports on the war in Ukraine. 

The European External Action Service (EEAS) lists current cases of disinformation from Russian sources on its website and refutes false claims.