My dad liked to say that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. A Buzzfeed investigative report shows something a little different: lies, damn lies and Facebook’s phony news sites. Buzzfeed analyzed the Facebook pages of three left-wing, three right-wing and three mainstream news sites. They found lies in almost 20 percent of the left-wing pages’ posts and 38 percent of the right-wing pages’ posts. Even worse, they found that “the least accurate pages generated some of the highest numbers of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook — far more than the three large mainstream political news pages analyzed for comparison.” Continue reading
Tag Archives: phony news
Does chocolate really help weight loss? Does aspartame cause seizures? Did an Italian doctor discover a simple operation to cure multiple sclerosis? Do dryer sheets cause cancer? The answer to all these claims is a resounding NO. So why do these, and hundreds of other phony health stories, continue to circulate? And how can you sort good health and science information from utter crap? Continue reading
Did President Obama really sign an executive order banning the pledge of allegiance in schools nationwide? Must be real — you can read it in abcnews.com.co. Oh, wait — that’s a phony news site, set up to steal the reputation of the real ABC News and get you to believe fake stories. Just like nbc.com.co or foxnews.com.co or cbs.com.co — all fake sites set up by the News Examiner, which also publishes phony news. Because theses “shill” sites look, at first glance, like legit news organizations, their phony news gets picked up and spread, often over social media and sometimes even fooling real news organizations. Continue reading
Does Hilary Clinton wear the bullet that killed Osama bin Laden on a chain around her neck? Did marijuana overdoses kill 37 people in Colorado on the first day of legalization? Was a Black Lives Matter group sued for being racist, not allowing white members? Did a vacationing President Obama really dedicate an 18th hole birdie to Louisiana flood victims? Did Trump really put Ben Carson and Sarah Palin on his foreign policy advisory team? Or is Michele Bachmann going to be his foreign policy adviser?
In this election more, even more than in previous campaign seasons, it can be hard to tell truth from satire. Continue reading
Did you read about the world’s biggest baby, born in China, weighing 73 pounds? How about Pope Francis’s denunciation of Pokemon as the devil’s tool? Or about Donald Trump’s cousin leaving a statement for his obituary begging people not to vote for him? Or that Donald Trump says President Obama founded ISIS? Okay – the last one is unfortunately true, which shows how hard it can be to tell actual news from fiction and satire, this year more than ever.
I spend lots of time reading news, and I care passionately about sorting truth from lies. So I’m going to write a series of blog posts to share what I’ve learned over a lifetime of working at this Sisyphean task. Today: phony news sites. Next time: Satire beyond The Onion. After that: Outright lies and hoaxes. Finally: Not really science and not really health. Continue reading