While older people may take longer to learn how to use technology because they didn't have it while growing up, Pew Research shows 70% of seniors are staying connected and using the internet.
In this day and age, the internet can be a place where we're just not sure what we can and can't trust.
Renee Earls with the Odessa Chamber is partnering with NewsWest 9 for Think Before You Click, a series of tips for the internet where you're just not sure who to trust.
Chapter one: Fake images
There are a lot of ways misinformation can pop up online and out of context images or fake photos are very common on social media.
When you see a viral image on the internet, it's important to stop and consider it.
For example, someone can use a picture from a different time or place to influence how you feel about an issue, or they can use software to change an image.
An example of a viral fake image is one that circulates a lot after hurricanes of a shark swimming on a highway.
Doing a reverse image search is a great way to figure out if a viral image is real or fake. These searches will bring up every time that picture has been posted online, and can bring up the original source of a fake image.
This will allow internet users to see how a picture is being used out of context.
Often this ability is as easy as right-clicking on the image and selecting "Search Google for image".
You can also find out if someone is using a stock image or stealing someone else's picture.
If you have the picture saved to your computer, you can also open up Google and click on the camera icon to upload it. Several sources will come up if the post is fake.
Chapter two: Fake articles
You've probably stumbled across an article online that someone shared but it turns out, there was false information on there.
That's why you should approach what you read online with healthy skepticism so you know what's actually correct.
It's really easy for anyone nowadays to make a fake article just to make you believe the information on it. But there are things you can do to figure out if what you're reading is factual.
First - make sure you look at who is behind the information. See who shared the information and why.
Check to see if the source is an expert. They might be looking for something to gain if you share it with other people.
Also, what proof do they have to back up their claim? Check if they have pictures, videos, or testimonials.
Then, compare what other sources are saying. Leave the page and see what other platforms are saying. This will give you great context.
These are the same questions that fact-checkers use so you know they work.
These are just some of the ways to help keep yourself safe from misinformation on the internet.
Chapter three: Lateral Reading
Lateral reading is a great way to make sure you have all that information before making a big decision or even a small one like whether you should share an article or not.
But what is lateral reading? Here's how it works.
People tend to read an article from top to bottom. We've been trained to read vertically.
When you fact-check something, open new tabs in your browser, and find other sources that have a similar story.
Switching from tab to tab helps you read laterally between different stories to see how their information compares.
Check who's behind the information, what's their motivation to share it, but importantly - see what other sources are saying about *this* particular source.
Also, look at the date of the article published. Check to see if it was recent and relevant.
Remember - the more tabs you have open, the better you are in finding more sources you'll find to verify the information in the articles.
Chapter four: Keywords and Google searches
You often hear the phrase "just Google it" when you ask someone a question about something.
It's easy for anyone to search online but using keywords can help you narrow the information you're trying to find.
For example, one of your goals this year is to go on that trip to Colorado to stay at a cabin, but you forgot the name of it.
This is when web searches come in handy. But you can't just type in “Colorado cabin.” You need to plug in keywords to make your search more specific.
For example, instead of typing in “Colorado cabin,” you can put where exactly in Colorado it is. Maybe you remember it’s by the Aspen Mountains and maybe you also want to go skiing, so try typing in “Aspen Mountains and “skiing.”
It's keywords like this that are helpful when you're searching for information. You can also use Google's filter option to search by category.
Are you trying to find news, pictures, or places to shop? Next to Google's settings, you can click the tools button to filter your search.
You can also use quotation marks around words if you want to find the exact word or phrase.
Maybe you're trying to look for wildfires happening around the country but you don't want to see articles about California wildfires. You can exclude certain words by putting a minus sign next to the word. In this case, it would be “-California”.
Remember-a web search is more powerful than just typing in a few words.