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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fake News Stories

     ScamBusters published an interesting article: “But in a new twist, con merchants are trying to pass off their websites as genuine newspaper or TV sites to convince victims about whatever it is they’re trying to sell. The really frustrating thing is that often they are not breaking the law. They invent a legitimate-sounding name for their “publication” or fake TV news station and dress the web page up to look like it’s a real report. Pretending to be impartial, the report usually either promotes a particular product or explains how you can easily make a fortune on the Internet. Sometimes, they carry videos that purport to be objective TV news reports explaining just how fantastic this new product or money-making idea is.” Read more… 

Cracked has an article, 5 Easy Ways to Spot a B.S. News Story on the Internet, that's worth reading. Business Insider says, “There’s a new online army of internet trolls, and instead of trying to hack networks they're simply trying to create chaos with false reports of breaking news.” 

“Rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement,” said the study led by Craig Silverman, a research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. 

     On Facebook,Twitter and YouTube “news story” often make the rounds. You see posts made by people, many of whom are unaware the stories are made up or hoaxes, linking to these fake sites containing stories designed to spread disinformation and attack those who are deemed enemies. One site, The Internet Research Agency, is housed in a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg is a so-called “troll farm.” Its employees spend their days creating phony news stories, anti-American and anti-Ukrainian propaganda and engage in online harassment and endless arguments in comment sections of websites. Read more on The Daily Signal…
     Some sites do give warnings in the fine print that their stories are for entertainment purposes or satirical, but most people never read the fine print. You'll see sites that look like they are from NBC, NY Times and USA Today, but they're fake. 
     You might think these sites are meant to be funny, but in many cases they are not. They are designed to trick people into sharing false information. Many of them are by groups trying to brainwash us into believing whatever it is they want us to believe. Always look for the original source of any story. Also, in some cases, they are nothing more than advertisements disguised as news stories and it is possible clicking on links to these articles will give you a nasty virus. 
     According to a June 20th article in Reuters and Business Insider, Facebook said it has taken steps to clamp down on "hoaxes" and fake news stories when it introduced an option to allow Facebook users to flag a story as "purposefully fake or deceitful news" to reduce the distribution of news stories reported as hoaxes. 
     However, Facebook said it will not remove fake news stories from its website. Instead, the company's algorithm, which determines how widely user posts are distributed, will take into account hoax reports. At the same time Facebook said "satirical" content, such as news stories "intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire," should not be affected. At least they have made a half-hearted effort to weed out the junk.
     AmericanNews.com is one of many fake news sites on the Internet and its source is unknown. One interesting thing about the site is that when you click on the “About us” nothing comes up. Their mission seems to be to make the Tea Party and conservatives look bad. They frequently take video clips or facts from a real story and make up the rest. The intent is to get people angry and discredit those they oppose. I see people posting stories on Facebook from them all the time. 

Other fake news sites are: 
The Daily Currant 

One list of fake Internet news sites included the following: 
The Onion 
Indecision Forever 
News Biscuit 
The Spoof 
Unconfirmed Sources 
Cap News 
Enduring Vision 
DERF Magazine 
News Mutiny 
Private Eye 
News Biscuit 
Empire News 
Empire Sports
Free Wood Post 
Global Associated News 
Media Mass 
National Report 
The Racket Report 
Weekly World News 
World News Daily Report

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