Fake news is a serious problem…

While we have been assured that the media are doing their utmost to label, shame and oust any bogus news, it seems they are nowhere near winning the battle, as ‘clickbait and ‘sponsored’ news keeps popping up in all sorts of news streams and social media channels.

The Internet is littered with fake news and ‘rags-to-riches’ stories:

No surprise given that anyone with a keyboard has a platform to share false information which, in many cases, is difficult to detect and too amazing to ignore.

The online trading arena seems to be the latest victim of fake news and rather obvious ‘clickbait’ stories of a “Camps Bay twenty-something” living the highlife on his yacht surrounded by a bevy of models, or “Cape Town man shocks Wall Street with secret system” or even how Trevor Noah made millions trading Binary Options have been doing the rounds.

These stories can be found on the links of many highly reputable news portals, luring the unsuspecting reader into believing the outrageous tales.

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See some examples below:

Fabricated online trading stories

Robyn Francis, Marketing Manager at Uprise Markets, a Johannesburg-based online CFD trading service provider, warns, “There’s a surge of fabricated online trading stories circulating the web.

“Trading platforms seem to have turned to sponsored content and stories of overnight success via online trading in Forex, CFDs and mostly Binary Options to lure unsuspecting clients.

Yes, there are success stories from online traders, those who have undergone proper training, have acquired the skills and take a long-term view, but expecting to become an overnight millionaire is certainly naïve”.

Robyn provides a few things to consider when reading a news story:

1. Don’t assume that everything you read is true

As simple as it sounds, the best tool we have is our own common sense. If it’s too good to be true, chances are it’s fake.

Check, and check again!

Type the trading company’s name into Google and search for reviews. You can also check sites like http://www.scamforex.net/ which rates Forex traders based on various things like reviews from the public, whether they are regulated or not, and whether they offer support services:

2. Understand ‘clickbait’

‘Clickbait’ is a term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, using sensational headlines at the expense of quality or accuracy by enticing the reader into clicking through to the story.

3. Check the source of the story

Click through to the news article and check that the URL is a legitimate news portal. Only buy into a story if you recognise the source. If the URL has a strange ending – don’t count on it. Some of these sites use a URL that is quite believable, even resembling genuine, familiar news sites. Wikipedia has a list of fake news sites: check it out here

4. Sponsored stories should be labelled as ‘sponsored’ or ‘advertorial’ or ‘partner content’

These labels indicate that the content has been paid for and, therefore, is essentially an advertisement.

5. If you are looking for a CFD trading platform look for one that is South African.

It must also be regulated by the Financial Services Board (FSB) and has branches like Uprise Markets that you can visit to talk to someone face-to-face.

While we wait for the media landscape to remedy the problem, Facebook and Google have been obliged to withdraw fake news sites from their advertising algorithms.

Report fake news

We, the trawlers can also help by reporting fake news or news suspected to be fake to Facebook or Google

If you are unsure about a post on Facebook, find the drop-down arrow in the top corner and click ‘report post’. Google encourages web users to alert them of fake news using their feedback button at the bottom of a page.

In addition, due to recent concerns over the US election results, programmers are putting their heads together to develop tools to flag or delete fake news from news feeds.

But for now, take heed

Make sure you find a legitimate online trading platform, complete an online trading course and pick up the phone. A real person in front of you or on the other end of the line is a whole lot more credible!