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The difference between the two, however, is that the fake news epidemic won’t simply go away if you rest at home for a few days. For reasons unknown, trolls create clickbait articles, viral hoaxes and completely fabricated stories from seemingly out of nowhere and these manage to infiltrate our social media news feeds so much these days, to the point where Facebook had to step in and attempt to combat it.
In essence, fake news could be seen as information that simply fills the gap between facts and uncertainty after a particularly big news event. Is it at all dissimilar to an April Fool’s joke that some companies like to play on us? Perhaps not much, but the main difference is that these April Fool’s jokes are often harmless and barely even thought of the next day, whereas fake news can have real and lasting consequences.
Falling for a fake news story – while not the end of the world – still kind of sucks and is never a fun experience. After all, when you find that the lines between fiction and reality are blurring more than ever, who can we trust to tell us the truth? It’s correct that fake news and filter bubbles seem to go hand in hand, because if you only get your news from one source which simply recycles these bogus but believable news stories, then you’re getting yourself stuck in a bad loop that’s hard to get out of. That is – unless you eventually find out what’s real and what’s fake.
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These are some of the biggest stories that you may have fallen for recently.
During Radiohead’s performance at the 2017 Glastonbury festival in the UK, a hugely popular story reportedly coming from the BBC said that fans had been clapping and cheering after hearing the tuning of a guitar that they presumed was a brand new song. The article reportedly had quotes from fans who said it was actually Radiohead’s best work. This, of course, was absolutely fabricated. The story was actually designed to look like a BBC article, but after the article didn’t actually turn up on the longstanding news outlet’s official website, it quickly became clear that it was all a big hoax.
Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington tragically committed suicide in July 2017, but apparently, a news story was written which claimed that he was actually murdered. The article even made up a “police source” stating the evidence of Bennington’s murder, but as we know now, Bennington tragically took his own life in his California home.
In March 2017, the fake news machine churned out a story about a man working in a Texas morgue who allegedly took a nap on one of the stretchers, but was burned alive when another employee mistook him for a corpse. The report, which was created by a parody news site called WNDR (the reason that many fake stories gain traction) was obviously shared thousands of times across the internet. So, no, don’t worry that someone was actually cremated by accident.
In September 2017, a story spread that Hurricane Irma was turning into a Category 6 hurricane that could have the power to “wipe entire cities off the map.” There’s no doubt that the storm was incredibly powerful and hugely destructive, but to call it a Category 6 (it was actually a Category 5) is nonsense, primarily because the scale doesn’t even go up to the number six. Fake meteorologist accounts made up false maps and diagrams showing how catastrophic Irma would become, so much so that real meteorologists had to constantly debunk the news from concerned members of the public.
Those were just some of the stories that are shared on social media and quickly spread like wildfire – flames that are almost impossible to put out. Sites like Snopes.com can actually verify whether a story is true or not, but another way to get off the fake news wheel is simply to stop believing everything you see on your Facebook or Twitter feed and pay attention to real news websites.
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