Here’s all the fake news to print for the past week:
- How does fake news get started? Politico tracks down the source of a meme comparing senator (and presidential hopeful) Kamala Harris to Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who once claimed to be black, by claiming that Harris is not truly African American. The meme (below) started out on a Reddit message board then hopped to Pinterest, Twitter, 4chan, and then various conspiracy-themed Facebook groups. The moral of this story is that it’s surprisingly easy for hateful memes and fake news to blow up big. Read all about it here.
- Speaking of memes, here’s a new one on an old topic, purportedly linking Hillary Clinton to the 1995 Oklahoma City terrorist bombing. (I found this image on Facebook, FYI.) Just because you can make a meme out of it doesn’t make it true. Read the takedown by FactCheck.org.
- The Momo hoax refuses to die. (I can personally attest to this, as my third-grade grandson continues to contend that Momo is real and his friends have seen it in YouTube videos, both of which are not true.) For the uninitiated, the hoax revolves around the notion that there’s a viral game perpetrated on YouTube, WhatsApp, and other social media where this weird-looking demon bird lady urges children to perform various acts of violence, culminating in suicide. It’s a hoax, an urban legend (and not even a new one) that’s being spread by traditional news media who don’t know real news from fake news — and this one is as fake as they come. More about the matter here from TechDirt, which goes into how traditional media are easily fooled.
- Not to say that social media doesn’t spread its share of fake news, because it does. Witness the news about Ethan Lindenberger, who defied his anti-vax mother to finally get himself vaccinated at age eighteen. Where did Mrs. Lindenberger get her anti-vax nonsense? From posts on Facebook, and the fake health news websites the posts linked to. Fake health news is perhaps the most immediately dangerous type of fake news; believing this stuff can literally be deadly. Read more about it in The Washington Post.