153. Trash, Fake, Hoax News

How to avoid posting it on Facebook and other media.

“Senator Dinwiddy Is Literally a Fish”

Pretty interesting, right? So you want to post it on Facebook so others will find out the truth about Sen. Dinwiddy. But first, is he really?

Is it from a known good site?

Websites like the New York Times, Washington Post, and the major broadcast networks have a reputation to uphold. So if they take a claim seriously, even though they would love to have a scoop on it, they will usually do their best to check it out. And if they later find out they were wrong, they will do a retraction, or even an apology.

Be careful, though. is the actual website for ABC News. But abcnews.com.co is a fake news site designed to look like ABC News. The .co top level domain belongs to Columbia. It isn’t likely that ABC would base their news website there. They are taking advantage of the fact that many commercial websites in the United Kingdom have domain names like bbc.co.uk where the .co.uk means a company in the U.K.

Is it from a known bad site?

Some bad sites are so common that we might recognize them. Like the National Report, the World News Daily Report, Huzlers, Empire News, The Last Line of Defense, and others. The problem is that there are so many of them, we can’t possibly remember them all. Snopes has a list of some of them. Unless you recognize the site as good, you should probably be very suspicious.

Why is it a Bad Thing™ if we post trash/fake/hoax news?

Well, even if it’s legitimate satire (most is not), so many people do NOT read the article posted, or don’t read it carefully. Many even miss any hints in the headline or subhead or the image themselves. So something registers, perhaps even unconsciously. After seeing the headline several times about Sen. Dinwiddy, when they see him on TV, they might catch themselves looking to see if he actually has gills. Or at least they might trust him less, and maybe not know why.

Be more skeptical the more sensational it is

Almost all headlines hype things a little. This was true back in the dead tree newspaper days. But the more you want to say, “WOW”, the more you should investigate to see if it’s true. And it isn’t that hard.

First, Google for a key word or two. In our made-up example, Google for “Dinwiddy fish”. I just did and found several things for Dinwiddy, but nothing about a fish. If the only thing you find is the article you’re thinking of posting, or if the other hits are sites you don’t know, that tells you what you need to know. If it is sensational, and it’s true, there will be mainstream sites picking it up by now.

Be considerate of other friends or group members

None of us have time to research everything we see on digital media. But if we can at least take the time to investigate something before posting it, we will all benefit.

Resources

Disclaimer

By the way, I don’t think there IS a Senator Dinwiddy. If there is, or will be, he or she is probably not a fish. Also, no actual fish were harmed in the making of this page.

 

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