3 reasons why you must trust headlines completely because everything you see online is real

Now that's a headline you shouldn't trust.

Mothership| January 28, 06:12 PM


They serve to entice you to click on it and spend the next few minutes reading an article that you see spontaneously appear on your social media news feed.

But that’s after the humble one-liner of a headline has served to capture your attention, stir your sentiments, push your buttons and metaphorically give you two tight slaps across the face to really get you going.

Wait a minute. What was happening right there? Were you taken in by something as simple as “a headline”? Are you sure what you’re reading is legit?

Admit it, you have been duped. And congratulations because you join the thousands upon thousands of others who have also been made to believe something is true when it is, in all likelihood, not.

And here’s the curious thing: Not all misleading headlines are malicious or serve to tell lies.

Some headlines, like those belonging to Singapore’s satirical website New Nation, are meant to expose deeper truths, such as prejudices and other short hands people employ in thinking, by making absurd scenarios seem plausible just so to make a point.

Confused yet? No worries. Here are three articles from New Nation that got people online believing they are real news without reading deeper and for no reason other than the fact that people sometimes simply believe everything they read because, hey, it is on the Internet:


1. The "How I wish this was real" story


Headline: PM Lee unfriends Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Facebook, untags him from photos

Reason why people fell for it: This story sounds plausible enough — if people actually imagine leaders of free nations to have as much free time as common folk. But then again, leaders everywhere are on Facebook these days. But it really sounds too good to be true.

Reason why people shouldn’t have: Put on the thinking hat for one moment. Refer to this “How to be S.U.R.E.” comics guide if you must. Imagine this: If the leaders of two separate countries wanted to have a Facebook Cold War, why not check it out on Facebook for yourself? If you understood how Facebook works, you would know that Public Figure pages work differently from a normal Facebook page of a regular person. In other words, a Public Figure page cannot unfriend another Public Figure page. Be S.U.R.E. before you Share – Check source of information (Look at its origins. Is it trustworthy?).


2. The "This totally serves my point" story


Headline: S’porean student gets pregnant playing university’s Freshmen Orientation Camp games

Reason why people fell for it: There's a certain vindictiveness to this story: That university students are smart enough to get into tertiary institutions but utterly fail at common sense.

Reason why people shouldn't have: Reading the headline alone might seem like this is a legitimate news story — if you don’t bother to think through the mechanics of how conception is possible in such circumstances. But the main point is: The reader has to read through the whole article to know that this is a piece poking fun at Singapore’s obsession with getting graduates to get married and mate. Readers should ask who is this about? Why is this happening? Does doing a simple search online throw up any other similar results? If you’ve read it only at one source on the Internet, it is most likely false.


3. The "I can't wait to point out how this is not possible"


Headline: NSman’s grandmother gets 85 points taking the new 3-station IPPT

Reason why people fell for it: People love to refute things online. And when they get the chance to do it, they will jump on it without a second thought.

Reason why people shouldn’t have: It is so fake, people who read it and get riled up by it cannot wait to point out how fake it is. Basically, this story is super fake and meant to be the very insult it is spoofing because it plays off the common refrain NS men would hear during National Service training: “Your grandmother can run faster than you!”

Always be 100% S.U.R.E. of the information you receive (Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate). If you aren’t, do more research before you arrive at your own conclusions.

Not sure how to achieve that? Do check out how to be more discerning with information online with the National Library Board today. http://www.nlb.gov.sg/sure/


*This post fuels Mothership.sg so our writers don’t have to beg for a living (which is probably not allowed anyway.) 

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