Have you ever seen that article on Facebook about the accused Boston Marathon bomber that was severely injured in prison?
Or the Syrian refugee that renounced his Islamic faith after eating bacon for the first time?
Guess what, they’re fake.
Fake news can be an unstoppable force, showing up everywhere from your gullible friend’s timeline to the pages of the New York Times.
“If there’s multiple liable sources, then the source is real. And if they can prove it’s true,” said Delta student Brenna Mcleod, when asked about whether or not she knows if the stories she reads are fake or not.
Tara Cuslidge-Staiano, Associate Professor of Mass Communication at Delta College, followed up.
“Real news organizations have gatekeepers, people who stop these sort of things from getting up. And the fake news organizations are just kind of publishing anything and everything which is changing the way young people are thinking about news,” she said. “The biggest thing is to go to the bottom of the website. Look at the about page. An about page will tell you basically everything you need to know about a website. I’ve seen fake news sites that have inappropriate information in their about page.”
A little more than year ago, Facebook declared war on sites such as National Report – which is full of fake stories.
These stories solely exist to rear up reactions from people on Facebook, while all the while making a quick buck.
“Overall since we rolled out updates to down-rank hoaxes on Facebook, we have seen a decline in shares on most hoax sites and posts,” a Facebook spokesperson said, according to a BuzzFeed News article published earlier this month.
The stories that go viral earn tons of responses from readers.
For example, the story about the Boston Marathon Bomber.
“Good for him!” said a Facebook user in the comments section.
“I hope he got a good look at his cell to give him an idea of the mess he made at the marathon,” said another Facebook user.
According to the “Fake/Hoax News Websites” section of fakenewswatch.com, there are nine sites that publish fake news stories.
Those sites are as listed: National Report, Huzlers, Empire News, The Daily Currant, I Am Cream Bmp, CAP News, NewsBiscuit.com, Call the Cops and World News Daily Report.
Even after being listed on fakenewswatch.com, these sites continue to publish fake news stories.
Links to fake news spread like wildfire.
People see things and think are funny or entertaining and they share it.
“I think it’s inappropriate for people to post fake news and mislead people because people keep forwarding and forwarding the post and when people on Facebook respond and comment, it starts arguments and people get irate with each other and it’s all over something that’s not true,” said Yolanda Rubio, a Delta student.
In a post last January, Facebook announced plans to – according to user feedback – flag fake posts or have mass deletions, in an attempt to decrease reach for fake news stories.
Allen Montgomery, the mind behind National Report, claims Facebook is fighting a losing battle.
“They can shut down National Report,” he said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “But I could have 100 domains set up in a week, and are they going to stop every one of those?”
He then proceeded to share this unbelievable truth.
“Are they now going to read content from every site and determine which ones are true and which ones are selling you a lie? I don’t see that happening. That’s not the way that the internet works.”