How to talk to your family about fake news

‘Fake news’ might be a phrase that everyone’s familiar with and aware of, but it’s still hard to know what to do when someone shares something that doesn’t seem quite right.

Starting a conversation about a piece of misleading information can be a bit awkward – especially if the person who sent it is a family member. They’ve probably got your best interests at heart and they most likely aren’t out to deliberately promote false stories.

In the latest edition of For Fake’s Sake, TikTok star Ehiz Ufuah meets Laura Garcia from First Draft (an organisation working to protect people against misinformation) to get some tips on how to talk to family or friends about fake news. It’s actually not as difficult as it seems!

1. Ask them where the information comes from

Gently ask where they got their story from. They might have seen it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, but if you can, try and find out which account or news source shared it. This will get them to think about what makes a reliable source more critically.

2. Remind them that jokes have consequences

It’s easy for someone to respond by saying “Oh, it was only a joke”, but sometimes satire and parody can be misinterpreted as facts. It’s really important for them to understand that a lot of fake news is spread this way, but don’t try to lecture.

Listen to their explanations and even point out that you hadn’t realised the post or story was a joke – this will help the other person empathise with you and understand your perspective.

3. Be patient and try to help

The most important thing is to be patient and respectful when asking someone about news that might be fake. They’re most likely worried about an issue or may have seen something that has upset them, so don’t shut them down and try to show kindness and concern.

You’ve got a much bigger chance of getting to the bottom of it this way and, if needed, it opens the conversation for future chats about false information.

Where next?

How false information spreads
What are reliable sources?
Fake news and me
Fact or Fake?