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What’s Fake News, What’s Not

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 11:59am | by Helen Hoart

Recently there was a twitter flap over United Airline banning two young women from banning a flight because they were wearing leggings.  I heard a trailer on the radio on my way to the gym.  I was outraged at what I heard AND so was a large section of the Twitter-verse.

It turns out the story was much more nuanced.  United had banned two young women who were traveling on free or nearly free friends and family passes.  Those passes carry restrictions including a dress code.  United figures people traveling on these passes in some way represent the airlines.

This was cleared up quickly (no thanks to United Airlines early response, which seemed to cloud the issue rather than clarify).

But there’s a lot of other fake news with more serious consequences.  A man fired a weapon in a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant in 2016 because he believed a fake news story that the restaurant was a front for a child sex trafficking.  He read about the restaurant in the news.

How do you tell the difference between the real thing and a fake news story?

The BBC has some helpful guidelines:

  1. Has the story been reported anywhere else?
  2. Is it on the radio, TV or in the newspapers?
  3. Have you heard of the organization that published the story?
  4. Does the website where you found the story look genuine? (meaning it doesn't look like a copycat website that's designed to look like another genuine website)
  5. Does the website address at the very top of the page look real? Is the end of the website something normal like '.co.uk' or '.com', and not something unusual, like 'com.co'?
  6. Does the photo or video look normal?
  7. Does the story sound believable?
  8. If the answer to any of these questions is 'no', you might want to check it out a bit more, before spreading the word.

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