Protecting Yourself from Fake News and Hoaxes

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1. What are Hoaxes and Fake News?

2. Infodemics: How to Spot a Lie

3. Is it true? – Fact Check

4. Don't Be the One Spreading Lies.

5. Hoax and Fake News Roundup from Around the World

6. In Summary

7. Reference Websites

  1. What are Hoaxes and Fake News?


The original meaning is propaganda and incitement for popular manipulation by dēmagōgos (leaders of the people, politicians who in turn incite the people) in ancient Greek ※1

It means intentional, inflammatory false information, and the sender aims to inflame people's feelings or cause them to take some action by disseminating it.

Fake News

There is global debate over the definition, but the policy document states:

  • Disinformation

  • Misinformation

All forms of false, inaccurate, or misleading information designed, presented and promoted to intentionally cause public harm or for profit.

– EU High Level Expert Group (HLEG) Report

The deliberate creation and sharing of false and/or manipulated information that is intended to deceive and mislead audiences, either for the purposes of causing harm, or for political, personal or financial gain.

– Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on DCMS (UK)

※1 World Encyclopedia ※2 Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications website

Why would you create false information?

There are people who are making huge profits from making fake news. The main reasons are as follows.

They earn advertising revenue by increasing the number of visits to a specific site through sensationalist content.

Making a profit and discrediting celebrities, companies, etc.

Profiting by tapping into people's anxious minds in times of social and political turmoil.

They enjoy that society is even more confused.

Profit from demeaning a particular candidate, group or person in a political campaign or election.

To make a profit by stealing personal information or selling products by directing people to a specific site and making them click on it.

What is the purpose of spreading it?

So what is the purpose of those who spread it?

Studies have shown that people tend to spread information because they are following the person who is spreading it, rather than the content of the information.

There is also the easy motive of "I don't care what's right and wrong because it's interesting," but there are also some people who spread it out with good intentions and a sense of justice.

In that case, they don't even question whether the information is correct, they just trust it.

With the Covid-19 epidemic, photos of empty supermarket shelves have become very popular, along with the words "out of toilet paper".

"It is said to have started as a "hoax" that the product is made in China and is the same material used to make masks.

You may be arrested

He has been known to be arrested and has also been known to cause various incidents as a result.

Under Japanese law, disseminating news is not a crime in itself, but you can be arrested if you harm the interests of a particular person or entity.

Example: Defamation Acts that defame others

(e.g., defamation of credibility, obstruction of business) When a person interferes with the business of another person by spreading false rumors or misleading others

Also, if you steal someone else's ID or password in the process of transmitting news, you will be subject to the Unauthorized Access Act.

Recently, a man was arrested on suspicion of obstructing business after spreading a hoax on Twitter saying that a zoo lion had escaped in Kumamoto immediately after the Kumamoto earthquake.

The prosecution was suspended, but could result in imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

2. Infodemics: How to Spot a Lie

Infodemic = Information + Epidemic

It's a combination of the words "information" and "contagion" to describe the rapid proliferation of information.

The WHO has warned that infodemics are spreading faster and more widely than pandemics, which means that accurate information is not being delivered.

Six checks to make sure you don't get scammed

i. check the source of the information

1.Is the information source clearly stated?

Is it a reliable source of information (whether it is a public institution or not)?

Let's take a look at the website's operator information (About us)

ii. Check out the author.

Whether he or she is a reliable expert (affiliation, background, etc.)

it's real or not (it may be a spoof)

iii. Check your account name, user name and address.

The sender's name is Apple, but the email address is unnatural.

Example: apple2455nb

He is using President Trump's account, but his user name is unnatural.

Example: @Trumpjoejoyce2

The URL of the site is a string of numbers or alphabets, or looks unnaturally like a famous site, even though the name of the company or organization is used.

iv. Check out the title, text, and photos!

Just for the purpose of spreading the word, such as "want to spread" or "want to share".

! !or bold letters, or a string of exaggerated phrases

The attachment of shocking photos.

Take a closer look at the photos.

→Does it match the text (location, time, etc.)?

v. Check the content.

Is the chronology correct?

Are they telling the truth? Or is it just a personal opinion?

Whether it is primary information (not biographical information, but the experience of the person)

vi. Check out the other mediums.

Let's have a look at the paper media (newspapers, etc.)

Check the official government website.

Take a look at other websites.

3. Is it true? – Fact Check

April 2 was World Fact Check Day.

What is a "fact check"?

[Fact check]

It is a process of investigating whether the information, news and discourse spread in society is based on facts, and writing articles about the process to share accurate information with people. In a nutshell, it's "true-false verification *4

*4 FIJ website

How do you check?

They gather a vast amount of information from social media and other sources, sift through it to see if it's suspect, and verify it based on the facts by people with expertise in their respective fields. Nowadays, information checking using A I (artificial intelligence) is also being carried out.

What are they checking based on?

The five main principles that fact checkers should follow

The commitments of the code of principles※5

The regulations are set by the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN).


A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness.


A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources.


A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization.


A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology.


A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy.

※5 IFCN website

What kind of organization is doing this?

Reporters' Lab, run by Duke University, maintains a database of fact-checking organizations from around the world.

In Japan, there is a non-profit organisation called the FactCheck Initiative (FIJ), which promotes fact-checking.

Database of Fact Checking Organisations around the World

Reporters' Lab

Links to COVID-19 related pages of each organisation


PolitiFact / USA

Full Fact/United Kingdom

Organisations that can request a fact check, a nonprofit organization and a project of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

You can send them an email and request a fact check.

(English required, please read the notes on the link)

How will the results be assessed?


It is an evaluation and judgment of the veracity and accuracy of the subject discourse that is presented when publishing a fact check article. (There are also fact-checking organizations and media that do not adopt ratings.)

FIJ / Japanese organisations

Politifact (American organisation)

Fact Check Example "The Effects of Ethanol in the Kitchen"

"The coronavirus disinfection effect of kitchen ethanol has not been scientifically proven."

However, the manufacturer's counter-argument was made and it became difficult to know what was true.

The Society for the Scientific Study of Food Safety and Security (SFSS), a non-profit organization, conducted a fact-check to see if this skeptical discourse was true, and has posted the results.

"SFSS fact-checks disinfection effectiveness of kitchen ethanol formulations!"

NPO "Association for the Science of Food Safety and Security"]

4.Don't be the One Spreading Lies

Before you push that share button.

Would you like to take a deep breath? 

Here's some material that explains how to protect yourself from fake news in easy to understand cartoon form.

It was produced by Aos Fatos, a Brazilian fact-checking organization, in cooperation with the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which is run by the Poynter Institute in the United States.

(There are editions in various languages.)

5.Hoax and Fake News Roundup from Around the World

All of the following have been judged to be false or misinformation.


・Viruses can get into tap water and have a negative impact on your health.

・Stones such as granite have an immediate effect on the decomposition of the virus.

・Aosa is effective in preventing the infection of the new coronavirus.

・Coronavirus is weak to heat, and drinking water of 26~27 degrees Celsius has a sterilizing effect.

・A light glass of water once every 30 minutes flows into the stomach and is killed by stomach acid.


・Coronaviruses are inactivated by inhalation of water vapor for 5 minutes.


・No one has died from coronavirus alone, not as dangerous as the flu, Italian doctor claims


・It is possible to prevent and treat the hot air that comes out of the dryer.

・Colloidal silver, vitamins, tea, essential oils, etc.

・It's dangerous to take ibuprofen (WHO says it's safe)

・The river water in Venice has been cleaned up (the attached photo is from another town)

Multiple languages

・ stays in the throat for four days before reaching the lungs, and the virus can be removed by gargling with lukewarm water containing vinegar and salt.


・Alcohol is effective in preventing infection.

6. In Summary

Everyone is filled with anxiety and fear in the current situation, which is a new disease for humanity and facing an unprecedented situation. 

Now is the time to take the initiative to select, research, and understand information correctly, and that is the way to protect yourself and your community.

7. Reference Websites

【IFCN/The International Fact-Checking Network】

[Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications]

Study Group on Platform Services

White Paper on Information and Communications

FIJ / Fact Check Initiative

FIJ (Fact Check Initiative) is a non-profit organization that promotes fact checking in Japan.

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