Did you hear the latest news?
- There are 11 missing planes in the Middle East that will likely be used in a 9/11 style terrorist attack.
- Tupac Shakur, thought to be dead, has been in hiding and recently resurfaced
- Casey Anthony, the woman acquitted by the courts (though convicted by public opinion) of killing her daughter, is now pregnant with twins and is going to have her own reality show soon.
- An Ohio church built a ridiculous youth center with all the games young people could want in hopes of being the coolest hangout in town.
- The coming winter is going to break all records in terms of snowfall – up to 50 times the normal amount.
These stories all have two things in common. First, they are fake news stories. False. Not true. Made up. Fiction. Some are created out of thin air, some can be the intentional twisting of facts. But, the fact is that they are not facts, but fiction. Second, each one has been widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook, shared repeatedly and treated as if they are true.
Every single day I see a few of these stories come across my Facebook feed, shared by friends and family. Often the stories are political in nature, feeding our desire for evidence to prove that the liberals out there are destroying America. Obama said something more ridiculous or did something more despicable than yesterday. Sometimes, they are hysteria inducing – Facebook is using its messenger app to take over your life, take pictures of you when you aren’t looking and change your phone around for no apparent reason. Plots. Conspiracies. Hidden agendas. They spread around the internet like wildfire.
There are a plethora of fake news sites that intentionally create news items for the sole purpose of seeing people make fools of themselves by reading, sharing and reacting to their articles.
I had an interesting exchange with a friend – someone who is not either a believer or a conservative. But he told me that most of these sites have a specific MO. They create fake articles that Christian, conservative, tea-party types WANT to believe. When we share them we look ridiculous and that is exactly what they want. People are intentionally creating fake news stories to make conservative Christians look stupid. There are some that feed into leftist prejudices as well, but these are much less common than the “I Love ‘Murica” sites.
And we are buying into it hook, line and sinker.
Look, everyone, up at the ceiling. The word gullible is written there just above you.
We are making ourselves look ridiculous and it needs to stop. More than that, we need to start being annoying, interfering, obnoxious fact checkers. In recent weeks and months I’ve taken to adding a comment when a Facebook friend shares one of these fake stories as if it is real. I try to be tactful, but it is time that those of us who are conservative Christians start holding one another accountable for our naivete and, I’m sorry, stupidity.
How hard is it to check the source of a story? A couple of clicks, a google search and you can find out if your facts are facts or fakes.
Let’s stop making is so easy to make us look stupid!
Here are some suggestions.
1) Check the source of the story.
Marty Duren posted a list on his Facebook site, culled by Mark Bednarz, listing some of the main fake news sites. All you have to do is check the source of the stories. if it comes from one of these sites, it is COMEDY. Don’t believe it. Don’t share it as true.
The Borowitz Report
Call the Cops
Carbolic Smoke Ball
Cream BMP Daily
Free Wood Post
Global Associated News
The Duffel Blog
Weekly World News
I couldn’t find the original link, but I copied this from Marty’s Facebook page where he identified Mark Bednarz as the source.
2) Practice discretion.
C’mon, guys. Some of those stories are so ridiculous you don’t even need to check the site. When a story strains credulity it probably isn’t true. Sometimes, it actually is. The story about the 9-year-old girl who shot her instructor by accident in a gun range – that was true. But most unbelievable stories ought not to be believed.
Just because a story buttresses your political beliefs does not mean it is true. Just because you WANT it to be true does not make it true. I think the current president is one of the worst things ever to happen to this country, but about 2/3 of the wild accusations made against him are just not true. Don’t let your disdain for the president, for Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or any other political figure cause you to be suckered in by fake news.
When we make wild accusations against him that are proven to be baseless, it costs us credibility when we address his real beliefs, convictions and policy failures.
Show some discretion. Check things out. It’s not that hard.
3) Snopes. Snopes. Snopes.
Snopes.com is a pretty good site that gives fairly solid information. Chances are that if you are seeing a viral news story that you think might be fake, they probably have an article on it. They are not inerrant, but they are pretty good at tracking down these stories.
Sometimes, a simple google search will show you a story is fake.
4) The MSNBC/FOX Test
This is not a perfect test, because even the major news outlets have been taken in by fake news at times. But you can count on Fox to report a story that makes Democrats look bad. You can count on MS/NBC to report a story that makes Republicans look bad. If a story appears in neither, it is likely a fake.
5) When in doubt, DON’T!!!
Don’t share a story just because you like it. Unless you are fully confident that it is true, you ought not spread the virus. If you aren’t sure, don’t share. If you have any doubt at all, let it ride. Only share that which you know beyond any reasonable doubt to be true.
I hate to be redundant, but….
6) If you blow it, admit it.
We’ve all gotten taken in by a story at one time or another. If you get snookered, correct your errors as vigorously as you spread the fake story.
7) Identify the Fakes
This may annoy people, but when you see someone spreading a fake news story, add a comment that as tactfully as you can say it, identifies the story as untrue. Don’t call the person stupid, but let everyone know that the story is likely a hoax, a spoof, a fake. Not everyone will appreciate it, but if you are kind about it, it usually isn’t too offensive.
Don’t let the news fakers make us look like idiots anymore!!