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Before you sail away

Dominik Lehnert
Let’s share our responsibility to fight fake news and promote critical literacy online and offline.
19.10.2021  |  Berlin, Germany
Sailing away on the Nile in Cairo. (photo: The Niles / Asmaa Gamal)
Sailing away on the Nile in Cairo. (photo: The Niles / Asmaa Gamal)

The continuous efforts of journalists from across the basin to inform the public and build bridges amongst the diverse Nile audiences cannot be separated from the environment in which they evolve.

That is where we would like to encourage you, esteemed reader, to claim your right to be informed and fulfil your responsibility to consume and share information conscientiously.

Everyone has a responsibility to learn and use critical literacy skills online and offline. Critical literacy is about questioning information, authority and power, but it is simply not sufficient in the digital age.

Amplified by digital dissemination, dis- and misinformation undermine social inclusion, democratic participation and cooperation. Fake news are symptomatic of information disorder, a challenge that we can only address together – cooperatively.

After all, what is the point of having excellent, constructive, fact-based, accurate and ethical journalism if it can be bypassed by dis- and misinformation on social media – often unintentionally amplified by unaware media consumers.

Let’s share our responsibility to fight fake news and promote critical literacy online and offline. Here are The Niles editorial team’s top-10 tips:


Press pause: The sheer speed of social media means we’re often compelled to quickly hit ‘forward’ and share the message we’ve just received. It’s critical to stop, pause and reflect before sharing. Misinformation spreads rampantly, but corrections often gain little traction.

Think! Does this information seem reasonable/ likely/ believable? Things that seem ‘off’ often are. If you’re not sure about the authorship or the content, dig a little deeper before sharing the story with your friends and family.

Check the source: Do you know the sender? Are these their words or something they have forwarded to you? If there is no obvious source of information, go back to the sender and ask for clarification. When sharing information with others, always try to include the source.

Can you verify? If some of the story seems true, but not all of it, it might be worth checking each piece of information (use fact-checking resources to help you verify whether the information is accurate). A hoaxer may have hidden lies amongst their facts – making those lies easier to believe and easier to share with your family and friends.

Don’t mistake duplication for verification: Receiving the same information from multiple senders is not source verification. The viral nature of misinformation and disinformation sometimes makes it seem true because everyone is sharing; it’s critical to fact-check with such messages.

Consider the quality: Reputable news sources won’t publish articles full of spelling or grammatical mistakes. If you notice any typos or other blatant errors, you’re probably reading a website with low credibility.

Beware of fake images and videos: With today’s advanced image manipulation tools, it’s relatively straightforward for someone to create a believable fake image or even a video. You should thus never believe a story based solely on a screenshot, image, or video clip.

Read reputable sources in the first place: To avoid exposing yourself to false stories as much as possible, you should stick to legitimate sites and reporters as much as you can. Keep in mind, though, that just because a news company or brand is mainstream doesn’t mean that it’s trustworthy. But once you’ve vetted some sources and feel you can reasonably trust them, you should get your news there instead of from social media.

Contest dis- and misinformation when you see it: If you see someone share a story on social media that you know is false, don’t let it sit out and confuse others. You should comment on the post with a link to a trusted source that disproves the original article.

Is it true, or do I just want it to be true? Posting things just because you agree with them or would like them to be true is a dangerous motivator for spreading fake news. We all need to be careful not to promote a message that downplays the situation in our respective countries/ communities.

Take some time to go through “Too much information: a public guide to navigating the infodemic”, pulled together by the First Draft team.


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