EDIT: The list of example sites are only accurate as of the original publish date of this post. That list is ever-growing with players only rarely dropping from the scene. ALWAYS verify anything that appeals to your emotions or deeply-held beliefs by checking to see if other reputable sources have also reported on the topic.
If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, it is highly probable that one of your friends has posted a story from a parody website thinking it was genuine. At they very least, you have probably seen some viral image or video purporting something that is absolutely incorrect. How do you sort the fact from fiction? It’s quite easy, if you’re intelligent and level-headed enough to take a few seconds before spreading nonsense. While the internet has made spreading BS very easy, it has also made researching potentially-BS items very easy. If you read something that is just too good to be true or has even the slightest hint of conspiracy to it, just google the keywords to see what comes up. If you’re fairly certain something is false, just google the keywords with the word “hoax” to find discussions of its inaccuracy. For example, I came across this gem on Facebook: Ramen noodles are coated with cancer-causing wax? It would take a very stupid person to believe that something like that would go unnoticed by the FDA or unreported through any of the many reputable worldwide media outlets. Someone who shares this is so dumb that they think the governments of the world, the media, and the manufacturers of the aforementioned death noodles are involved in some massive conspiracy. That’s the only thing I can come up with, because if you take two seconds to google “ramen noodles cancer,” you’ll see that some of the top results are sites devoted to calling out nonsense. Snopes.com is usually on top of things. New potential hoax items are researched and discussed on the site’s forums until enough information is available to determine if something is true, false, a mix, or simply falsely attributed. Visit this site before you share anything questionable, because it just might save you the embarrassment of being called out by one of your smarter friends who consumes their media a tad more critically. If a politician said something that seems too good to be true, a cure for something has existed all along, or something seems just a bit too ironic, check it out first. It also helps to know the websites that do nothing but post fake news stories. Most people are familiar with The Onion, but I still see someone taking a headline seriously once in a while. Below are some more parody websites that get shared waaaay too much:
- The Daily Currant
- World News Daily Report
- National Report
- Almost anything by Andy Borowitz
- Super Tuesday News
- FakeShare (items shared on Facebook look like they are from “googonline.com” which I guess people who can’t read think is Google?)
- The Hummus (like The Onion, but with a Muslim twist)
- Duffel Blog (military satire)
- Empire News
- Weekly World News
- ChristWire (religious satire, which I hope you inferred from the title)
- CAP News
- MediaFetcher (customizable celebrity death headlines and such)
If sorting out BS is a new thing for you, take a moment to view some of those websites. Notice how most of them have an official sounding name? Some are even designed very well to mimic an actual news source. Pay close attention to the wording of the headlines. Notice how sensational they are? They use words that are quick to provoke that easily incense rubes who don’t know how to discriminate between reality and fairy tales. Save yourself some shame. Do the internet a favor. Stop posting/liking/sharing/forwarding dubious items. When in doubt, JFGI.