How to avoid fake news and advertorials when researching your expat destination

How to avoid fake news and advertorials when researching your expat destination

How to avoid fake news and advertorials when researching your expat destination

For would-be expats looking for a new life, researching the right destination for their needs is essential.

Nowadays, emigration should be easier than ever before due to the internet with its multi-million pages of information on just about every country on the planet, including a few that potential expatriates didn’t even know existed. However, there’s one major problem with online research, the difficulty of determining what’s fake news, what’s an advertorial and what’s the reality of any one destination. Very few expats have the time or money to stay for a while in each of their short-listed favourites, and choosing the wrong location can be a disaster in the making.

Fake news is easier to detect than are advertorials, with a brief investigation of the source followed up with visits to expat forums in the chosen country. It’s especially important to check all visa information with the country’s official government website, as much online information is out of date or just plain inaccurate. Advertorials, unless they’re blatant, are trickier to spot, especially when they’re published as information on expat-aimed websites or in online expat media. If in doubt, checking the source of the actual article via Google should clarify whether the information given is unprejudiced or is just click-bait for new customers.

A recent article found on a financial news website is the perfect example of an advertorial in extreme form aimed at generating enquiries about properties in Thailand. Placed on the site by one of the Southeast Asian country’s biggest property development companies, it paints a picture of expat heaven totally unrelated to the reality of expat life. Thailand is, rightly, a popular destination, especially for retirees on less than generous pensions, but disseminating fake news via an advertorial simply to sell real estate is iffy at best.

Young professionals are promised ‘exciting opportunities’, retirees are enticed with ‘relaxing, quiet beach towns’, families are seduced with ‘highly-ranked international schools’ and the elderly are offered ‘high-quality medical care’. Night owls are told ‘Thailand never sleeps’ with the authors conveniently forgetting the 12 p.m. closure by the ruling military junta of all bars, pubs and nightclubs. Google is your friend as regards the reality of international school rankings and costs as well as the similar downsides of healthcare provisions for expats in Thailand.

For decades, Thailand’s major draw was its pristine beaches, stunning marine life and spectacular undersea corals. The advertorial sticks to the ‘pristine, world-class beaches’ line in spite of local media coverage mentioning sewage, industrial pollution and endless rubbish including plastics on beaches and in the sea. Unfortunately, the once quiet beach towns are now packed with tourists, mostly Chinese these days, thus leaving little room for resident expats. Hopefully, the advertorial won’t be read by many, but it’s one of thousands similarly covering many destinations, all of which need to be thoroughly evaluated before being taken even half-way seriously.

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