In the final episode of 2018, Beth and Kelly try to leave it on the lighter side by discussing some of the funnier fake news items of 2018. Why do so many fake news stories revolve around guys doing stupid stuff? You'll laugh, you'll learn, you'll get some great jams!
We begin by discussing a story out of Bloomington, Illinois. At the end of August, a story popped up from what looked like Fox News about a mortician from the Clark County Coroner’s office arrested for organ trafficking. The story goes on to describe the office was lined with shelves filled with glass jars containing human penises. 218 of them. (And he would of gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!)
While this story is an obvious fake, it is not satire, as it the website is a clone for Fox News (foxnews-us.com) This kind of fake news is some of the most harmful, as it's based on nothing and just drives clicks for advertising revenue.
We move on to a story out of South Carolina, where a man supposedly shot his gun at Hurricane Florence in South Carolina back in September. The bullet rebounded and hit him in the head.
Snopes actually checked in with law enforcement to verify this wasn’t a true story, which seems like 5 minutes that could have been better spent on literally anything else. One reason the story took hold was a popular local Facebook Event:
More than 30,000 Facebook users checked they were attending a Facebook event titled Shooting Guns At Hurricane Florence To Scare It Away — and 73,000 more said they were interested in attending.
“Get your guns and your umbrellas,” the page read (since taken down). “And your umbrella-guns, and your beer, and your beer-guns, and your tiny umbrellas to keep your beer dry, and join people from all along the East Coast in scaring away Hurricane Florence to protect our country from this foreign invader!”
No podcast about crazy fake news would be complete without a story from Florida!
Remember 30 years ago, back in September, when Nike’s newest campaign featured Colin Kaepernick and republicans went crazy and burned their New Balance shoes?
Well, this obviously genuine story came from the totally legit news site Huzlers (joke, it's a satire site). It describes a 26 year old man from Florida who soaked his Nikes with kerosene and then set fire to them while in his garage. The fire spread to his home and burned the whole place down.
You tell us - does this guy really look like he would do something so stupid?
Beth and Kelly discussed how fake news is easier to spread if the story is funny, based on an article from Neiman Labs. Yale researchers Gordon Pennycook and David Rand make the case that people knowingly spread disinformation faster when the story has an element of humor, such as the ones cited above.
And to round up - April Fool's Day! Is it still valid in the age of fake news? It can be, according to David Funke from Poynter. But news media needs to stay away from fake stories and more on harmless pranks, just like the rest of us.
From Beth and Kelly : Thank you for supporting our efforts to call out fake news, and we hope you and yours have a very happy holiday season. We'll see you in 2019!
Spread jam, not lies.