Don’t Believe Everything You Read Online

March 22, 2016

How to Determine if an Article is Fake

We’ve all seen them. Someone posts an article on Facebook that just seems too good to be true.

“Katy Perry is Moving to Rock Hill, SC!”

“New Harry Potter Sequel to be Filmed in Houston, TX!”

You guys, I hate to burst your bubble but… these aren’t true.

Fake news sites have been popping up all over the internet and featuring targeted hyper-local stories like these. And, of course, sending everyone into a frenzy. “Why would Katy Perry move to such a small town?!” “Can I meet Daniel Radcliffe?! I thought he was done with Harry Potter!” People get caught up in what they see on their screen that many people don’t take a second to ask a simple question: is this really true?

Even I was tricked by the Katy Perry story, but I’m here today to share just a few tips on how to figure out if a story you see on Facebook is true or not. It seems like it would be pretty common sense, but I have seen many of my smartest friends caught up in these fantasies.

So, how can we determine if something is true?

1. Ask yourself: “Is this too good/crazy/outlandish to be true?” If it is, it’s probably fake. Now, this applies to pretty much everything in life and on the internet, but it definitely applies here.

Harry Potter Filming in Houston, TXKaty Perry Is Moving to Rock Hill, SC

2. Take a second and look at the name of the news source that the article is posted on. Both of the sites that I saw these articles on were identical in layout and had completely nondescript names. If you’re going to believe something you read on the internet, make sure it’s coming from a reputable news source. Non sure if this is a reputable source? Google the article and see what comes up. Here’s what I found when I googled the article’s name:

Google Katy Perry Moving to SC

3. Look at the “related articles” on Facebook. This one is probably the simplest of them all. When you click on an individual post (you can access this by clicking on the time that the article was posted) you can see similar or related articles that have been posted on Facebook. Odds are that you may find an identical article for another city or town. As you can see, the Harry Potter spin-off article has over 11,000 shares, so there are obviously people out there who believe this stuff!

Related Articles

4. Explore the “news” site. These sites don’t really offer much to explore, so I clicked on the “About Us” page and lo and behold, they actually SAY that they are a fantasy/satire news site. That’s it, folks. These websites are admitting they are running articles that are fake. Do we need to share them and trick our friends? No, no really. (If you want to see a real satire site that has actually funny stories, go to The Onion.)
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Let’s all be responsible citizens of the internet and not believe everything we ready, okay? I could probably go onto a fifty page rant, expanding on memes, other fake news sites, articles that have run about the election that are fake, but that’s another post for another day…

If you know someone who suffers from sharing these types of post, or want to educate your Facebook friends about spreading this kind of information, I would love it if you would share this on social media. Help me spread the word and educate our Facebook friends about these fake news sites!

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