Wednesday, December 14, 2016

SPOTTING FAKE NEWS STORIES

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Fake news stories are all over the news these days––in more ways than one.

A friend who will remain nameless (and I'm not talking about fishducky's daughter whose name really is Nameless) said to me a few weeks ago, Did you know that Donald Trump has a secret daughter?

I saw this headline online and knew what it was about. I said, If you mean Tiffany Trump, then she's never been a secret. She's his daughter with Marla Maples, who was his second wife. When they divorced, Marla and Tiffany moved to California. Tiffany graduated from college earlier this year. She didn't make a lot of campaign appearances, but that doesn't make her a secret. It was all over the news when The Donald had an affair with Maples while he was still married to his first wife.

Oh, my friend said.

So let's talk about how to spot a fake news story:

  1. Don't look at the headline without reading the attached story. Sometimes the story has nothing to do with the headline.
  2. Is the story from a reputable news source? (I realize some of us disagree about which news sources are reputable.)
  3. Is the story written in standard English, or is it full of typos and strange syntax?
  4. If you're not sure if the story is true, look up some background information. I rely on snopes.com to debunk fake stories.
  5. Does the story seem as if it could be true, or does it sound as if it could be someone's fantasy? 
Here's a good example of a crazy fake news story that has caused serious trouble and no doubt has a lot of idiots writhing in condemnation:

FAKE NEWS, REAL CONSEQUENCES An armed man with an assault rifle entered a D.C. pizza restaurant to investigate fake news claims that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring there. [Marina Fang, HuffPost]

"The restaurant has been the subject of death threats originating from a false right-wing conspiracy theory alleging that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and campaign chairman John Podesta ran a child sex trafficking ring in the back of the restaurant."

No matter how much you hate Hillary Clinton, do you really and truly believe that she ran a child sex trafficking ring? If you do, then I wanna sell you some real estate and a bridge.

Some of the fake stories also appear in emails that continue to be forwarded for years. I used to receive an email regularly that claimed Mr. Rogers had been a military sniper who wore his sweater to cover up his many tattoos. 

I never forwarded the email. It didn't seem "right" to me, so I looked into it. Mr. Rogers was never in the military. He went to the seminary and chose children's television as his ministry.

Other stories are "spins" perpetuated by large companies. When a woman spilled McDonald's coffee in her lap and was so severely burned that doctors weren't sure if she would live, the McDonald's spin machine went into overdrive and had people thinking she was an old fool who opened her coffee while she was driving, got burned, and wanted to become rich from it.

I call bullshit! The woman wasn't driving. Her nephew was, but the car wasn't moving when the two of them opened their cups of coffee. The coffee was so ridiculously hot that the woman's burns really were life threatening.

I've debunked this story a number of times. So have other people. The real story is also told in a documentary.

Yet I still see references to "the world has gone to shit because you spill a little coffee in your lap and sue somebody."

What's gone to shit is our ability to empathize with the person who was harmed, along with our desire to question authority––especially faux authority.

Please don't pass around emails or links to stories that could be fake. Do your homework and let the buck stop with you.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Thanks, fishducky!


29 comments:

  1. Great post. I spent way too much time responding to false news spread by friends on Facebook during the election, starting with the photo-shopped picture of HRC shaking hands with Bin Laden. Another was a touched up photo of HRC climbing the steps to board a plane with a "stain" on the back of her skirt. The story claimed she was incontinent, which was false. I couldn't unfriend some of these people, but I was tempted. I just commented with the link to snopes to show them they were being fooled.

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  2. THANK YOU! Sorry to go all caps lock on you but I deeply appreciate anyone who is pro-truth. I've been crowing about that McDonald's coffee lady story for over a decade now. Yet, I lose the battle because it's so much easier to site it as "frivolous lawsuits are out of control!" The tendency should always be to side with people before a gross company, yet, I see it today with DAPL. People go out of their way to excuse the voracious money hoarding company and condemn the individual because . . . well, why? Because it's easier to believe that capitalism is the best system that always has our best interests at heart? Team people here. Also, Team Truth. Sure, it's easier to parrot a headline, but everything is click-bait now. Those same money-hoarding companies now want your clicks. Click, click, click, don't read just click. Are we doomed? We might be doomed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people aren't happy unless they're angry about something. They don't care if the something isn't true.

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  3. My first measure is if a headline makes me angry, beware. Granted ther are true headlines that make me angry but when one does, I normally look on the BBC news, Washington Post, or NPR. If it's from one of those I'm more inclined to believe it.

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  4. Right on! Facebook is especially bad for that type of fake news reporting. Thanks for shedding some light on this.

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    Replies
    1. Mark Zuckerberg made little to no effort to stop fake news and has gotten called out on it. I don't know if he's made changes. I deactivated my Facebook account.

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  5. Great post! That bullshit interpretation about the woman with the McDonald's coffee has always just INFURIATED me. Her lawsuit was entirely justified.

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    Replies
    1. That story makes me so upset. How many years have to pass before people stop believing McDonald's bullshit?

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  6. I know people who refuse to be debunked. My brother in law said every word out of my mouth was a trick or a trap. That ignorance is impenetrable.

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  7. Good post! I hate those fake news stories, especially the ones about celebrity deaths. So many celebrities have been killed off by the fake news, it's almost funny. But it's really not.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I'd be pretty surprised if I woke up one morning and saw my obituary.

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  8. I never pass on that kind of weird stuff you can get in your emails. Maybe from not doing it for so long I don't get many anymore. Thank goodness! Seems like half the stuff online these days is made up or photo-shopped.

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    Replies
    1. I don't pass around emails, with the occasional exception of a good joke from fishducky.

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  9. Replies
    1. I appreciate the cartoons you send me that are perfect for my blog.

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  10. Hell yes there are so many fake stories around and so many people fall for them believing the rubbish stories on the internet should often be taken with a grain of salt.

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  11. Great job on this post. Too bad it is so much needed right now.

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    1. It's always nice to see you, Inger. It's horrible that the Internet makes it so easy for people to pass around lies.

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  12. Best post of the day! This is SO important. Many people believe anything they're told. I have stressed to my daughters since they were old enough to understand that they should always ALWAYS verify stories and not just accept them as true. If only more people would do this. I actually have a very old friend (we've known each other since we were twelve) who believes the Hilary Clinton pedophile story. What???? And again WHAT???? I was stunned when I discovered this side to her! Just when you think you know someone...

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    Replies
    1. I think I'd pass out if I knew someone who believed that story. My friend who believed that Trump has a "secret" child is elderly and doesn't remember some of these past stories that were so big at one time. When my son was a teenager he said to me, Mom, did you know that one of the munchkins killed himself while they were making The Wizard of Oz and they left his body hanging in the movie?

      I disabused him of the notion in a hurry, but I was disappointed. I thought I'd raised him better than that.

      Love,
      Janie

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  13. I miss the days when we'd tune in to Uncle Walter (Cronkite) and knew we could believe what he was reporting.

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    Replies
    1. I'm with you on that. I'm sick of "news" shows that are really commentary and make it up as they go. I do think the PBS News Hour is reliable.

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  14. The pizzagate made me ill. She has done so much good for women and children and to have something like that spread about her. So wrong. And the follow ups from the opposite side of the aisle, scary.

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    1. This is a woman who has for years and years been so supportive of causes to help children, a woman who has personally and without cameras watching stepped in to help girls improve their lives, and this is the thanks she gets.

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  15. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish what's real and what's fake, while at other times the stories are so absurdly ridiculous they could be coming from Mad magazine. There is a lot of stupid crap on the internet. But after all sex sells and idiocy killed the cat or something like that.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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