I’ve been reading about problems stemming from fake news stories for some time now. I even have a friend that thinks it’s hilarious to share them. I cannot agree with her on that. Why? I’ve felt for some time that someone would eventually take a fake story as truth and cause major problems. Well, it’s finally happening.
The Pizzagate Conspiracy
In case you are not familiar with it, this conspiracy start when a handful of people tried to tie together various stories during the recent presidential campaign. CNN has a video you can check out that gives a simple yet accurate breakdown on how it all got started. If you don’t care for watching the video, it’s this simple: Someone was trying to further muddy up the waters in what was already a dirty presidential campaign.
Like a lot of fake news stories, social media played a huge role in how quickly this spread.
Unfortunately, people’s penchant for knee-jerk reactions caused this to spread far more quickly than most other fake news.
Edgar Welch felt so strongly about the Pizzagate story he read that he took matters into his own hands. He went inside the Comet Ping Pong eatery, proceeded to the back room, and fired a single shot. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Later that same day, Welch surrendered to police without incident.
Welch thought that he was going to save any children being kept there. While his heart was in the right place, the information he was given led to this outcome.
No End in Sight for Fake News
Bloggers and some “news” sites will continue to publish these fake new stories. The reason is certain things like the welfare of children and politics grab the attention of average people. Because there is such emotional attached to subjects like these, blog owners know they will get hits, likes, and shares which produce revenue for them.
It is most likely all about money. Website owners such as myself can keep going because of ad revenue. No one likes ads, but they are an important part of keeping out sites afloat.
It can be very tempting to create a fake news story for site hits. All it takes is a single story going viral on Facebook or Twitter and it could generate thousands of ad impressions. This is why fake news will probably never go away.
I feel it is up to the average person to be responsible when it comes to things they read. The joke has been made several time: “It’s on the internet so it must be true!” If you think a story is suspect at all, please do the due diligence to make sure it is real news.
Then Who Do I Believe?
A lot of people are scared off by what many call the “Mainstream Media,” claiming that stories from them are trumped up and biased. While I can agree there is some truth to that, I would rather believe them than some random “news” blog. As long as people are foolish enough to buy into things like Pizzagate without actually going and looking into it, these fake stories will spread.
Eventually, this type of behavior will lead to someone getting killed.
This is why I have decided not to give in to the temptation. We’d all love for one of our stories to go viral. Ad revenue is the lifeblood of our sites, but I refuse to sacrifice my integrity for a quick buck.
If you like writing parodies and comical news, that’s fine. Just make sure your audience is aware that your article is a work of fiction.