You’ve probably fallen for it too. In an age where we share news with the click of a button and often read only headlines, it’s actually pretty easy to get bamboozled. So how can you avoid fake news? You can’t. It’s everywhere. But here are some easy ways to spot it.
Listen to your gut.
Does the URL seem fishy? It probably is. Know your reputable news sources.
No sources at all? Bye, Felicia.
Take it a step further. When you see an article that smells rotten, do a quick Google search before you retweet or share it with friends on Facebook. But first, here are some examples of fake news pieces that went viral. Can you remember seeing any of these ‘news’ items online?
15. Radiohead Guitar Tuning Song
Recently, a viral news story about Radiohead was making the rounds on the Internet. It was about the fact that fans of the band had believed the band was playing a new song as they tuned their guitars at Glastonbury. Except, that never happened. Fans didn’t think that the band was debuting a totally new song as they tuned their instruments. The article screen capture that circulated looked like it was from the BBC. But guess what? The original source was a delivery service…for flowers. Weird, right? It seems to be a legit Twitter account for a real florist. Their social media manager is totally on fire.
14. A Diet Consisting Of No Food At All
I recently first heard about ‘Breatharians’ thanks to reporter Amelia Magritte‘s hilarious tweet storm regarding these weird folks. These people are apparently attempting to live life without eating food. I call bull crap. But when I first read about Akahi and Camila, a Breatharian couple, I thought maybe they were for real. A little mentally unstable, and likely to die soon, but not lying. It turns out the couple was definitely full of crap. Or maybe not, since they were supposedly not eating anything. Ha. The fake news story made the rounds and even reputable sources were reporting on the story so don’t feel ashamed if you fell for it.
13. Whale Hugged By Seal
You fell for it but only because you wanted to believe it was true. I get it. It’s a feel good story. A seal hugging a whale? I’m all for it. I want it to be true. Sorry, though. Fake news. But, you know what? Feel free to keep on pretending the photograph above is real. I’ll allow it. But yeah, it’s photoshopped. You weren’t the only one who was fooled, though. It’s easy to forget that these two animals don’t even inhabit the same area. Oops. Sure, it’s fake but it’s a neat image nonetheless. In this case, I’d say it’s okay to plug your ears and stay ignorant. A seal hugging a whale is just magical.
12. Fake Mugshot
Fake, fake, fakety fake. A police department actually posted this faux-mugshot. Then people started sharing it. Barry Larry Terry allegedly rode a bicycle without a headlamp and also had a wild raccoon along for the ride. Except, Barry Larry Terry isn’t a real person, shocking, I know. The “mugshot” was posted in jest by the department. They just didn’t expect the post to go viral. It was meant to lighten up their image a little bit. I think it worked. Apparently, the PD Facebook page has gotten a huge influx of likes. I believe their social media manager (if they have one) deserves a raise.
11. Fake Jay-Z Lyric
I don’t actually remember seeing the offending fake lyric on Twitter. I guess I must have been asleep when it was trending. Post-4:44 unveiling a lyric was circulating on Twitter. It was purportedly off of Jay-Z’s new album, except, nope. It was a big fat fake. The lyric making the rounds was:
“And I was never a fan
My wife a queen, not a Kardashian.”
People were quick to tweet and retweet the faux-lyric that seemed to be insulting the Kardashian clan. Twitter users were also quick to delete their tweets and retweets once they found out it was a fake. Oops.
10. Touching Fentanyl
Goddammit. I fell for it. I blame all the middle aged moms I have as friends on Facebook. They repost a lot of fake alarmist junk which I usually brush off and roll my eyes at. Except, this time, the content seemed legit. Everyone’s up in arms about fentanyl, the new super killer drug. I’ve read lots of news stories about tragic deaths due to fentanyl overdoses. But the claim that a police officer died after simply touching the drug? FAKE. I don’t feel too bad about falling for it, reputable news outlets were reporting the story. Medical experts weighed in and skin to skin contact with fentanyl will not result in serious side effects or death. He may have inhaled the stuff by mistake. That could lead to more serious side effects. Sure, the rise in the use of fentanyl is a serious issue, but you won’t keel over if you touch it.
9. Manchester Bombing Fake News
After tragedy strikes, be wary of what you read online. People love to take advantage of others and stoke their fear. That definitely happened post-Manchester bombing. Not just one but several fake news stories made the rounds online after the attack at the Ariana Grande concert. One tweet, all in caps, cautioned people to stay away from Oldham hospital because there was an armed gunman. Not true. Some people even posted images and information about their family or friends claiming they were missing. Some of them were actually fake. I can’t even fathom why someone would do that. Apparently, retweets are more important than anything.
8. Soda Cans Contaminated With Rat Disease
I first saw this news item on my Facebook feed. Classic. I immediately called bullsh*t and started to do a little digging to confirm my suspicions. I’m fairly certain that the news item has made the rounds online several times. It’s a news item that warns people to wash their soda cans before drinking for fear of contracting leptospirosis from the remnants of rat droppings. Leptospirosis is a real disease but it’s unlikely that you’ll catch it from your soda can. It’s an alarmist piece of fake news meant to instill fear in people. It seems to work pretty well, too. People love to warn one another about things like this.
7. Strip Club Dancers Getting Diarrhea
The viral story about strip club dancers contracting some kind of diarrheal illness isn’t true. That didn’t stop it from going viral. It’s a strange story that includes strippers and gross bodily fluids, so of course, people are going to want to share it with their friends. Despite the fact that it’s fake, it’s still funny to picture the scene described. You have to give the folks who come up with these faux-news pieces some credit. They can get really creative. It’s more than just a click-bait headline. There’s some real descriptive stuff in there. They can really paint a picture.
6. Accidental Cremation
I first saw this on Twitter. The story had been retweeted by someone I follow and I immediately clicked on it. HOW IN THE WORLD COULD THIS KIND OF THING HAPPEN? I showed it to my husband and told him it couldn’t possibly be true. Nobody sleeps that soundly and nobody could possibly be that terrible at their job that they mistake one body for another. I knew something was fishy when I saw the photo attached to the story. The man who had allegedly been cremated was beaming in his photo. He had a wide toothy grin. No one would use that photo for this kind of story if it were real. No way.
5. Big, Creepy Shark Caught In A Lake
You’re thinking, this sounds really familiar. You’ve definitely heard this before and you’re pretty sure it could happen. Well, this recently circulating piece of news is actually fake. Reports of a giant great white shark being caught in a local Montreal lake are total BS. Another fake news piece also claimed a big shark was caught in Lake Michigan. Nope. Also not true. Both shark stories are unverifiable. They’re basically a throw back to an urban legend that you may have heard before. It’s why a lot of us are scared to swim in deep murky lakes. In the ocean, at least you can see a shark coming.
4. Puppy Thief
When you use social media, you’ve got to be ready for anything to happen. One social media user posted a fake news item about how she stole a total of 24 puppies. The dog-lover didn’t intend for the post to go viral. But it did. People actually believed the story was real and seemed to be oblivious to the fact that at the bottom of the article was a disclaimer alerting the user of the made up nature of the content. Sometimes it’s easier to turn a blind eye. In this case, it’s harmless, but it’s not okay to remain ignorant in the face of real fake news.
3. Krispy Kreme Name Change
A viral post from Krispy Kream made the rounds online earlier this year, just before April 1st. The post included a statement about the company’s decision to change its name to Krispy Cream. Uh oh. The post was accompanied by a photograph with some new signage and even a video. Be wary of posts that come from companies you follow on social media around April Fools. Nothing is safe. Believe nothing around that time of year. Nothing is true until the day has passed. Be skeptical always, but more so on April Fools. Companies go all out when it comes to the prankster holiday.
2. News About Charles Manson’s Release
You know that sound that gets played on game shows when someone gets an answer wrong? Imagine you’re hearing it right now. This story has gone viral several times and people fall for it constantly. In 2014, a story circulated that claimed Charles Manson was set to be released. The reason? Overcrowding. It was a satirical article, though, not real. Earlier this month, the news of Manson’s upcoming release made the rounds again. This time, it originated from a fake news site. But don’t worry, Manson is safely locked away. He’s only eligible for parole in 2027.
1. Muslims Chanting Death To America
It seems pretty self-explanatory why people would immediately believe this news story and share it with others via social media. Xenophobic and racist social media users are going to retweet this kind of thing without question. It simply backs up what they believe in the first place. The footage above was actually circulated online and there were claims that the people in the video were chanting, “Death to America”. Except, they’re not. The video first started making the rounds in 2016 accompanied with claims that the media was attempting to suppress its dissemination. But the video is from a protest that took place in 2014 and it was for a protest over Gaza bombings. In addition, the video was never kept hidden by the media.
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