13 February 2017

what to do when the news itself smells like dead fish; or, fake news

If you haven't read it yet, please read Abby Franquemont's excellent article on (of all places, an irony she knows very well) Buzzfeed: Can we talk about checking a story before sharing? For those who don't know her, Abby is the author of Respect the Spindle, and has always been a sharp, knowledgeable, witty commentator on everything from politics to the economics of making a living as a fiber artist.

For those who don't really know me, I'm a retired librarian, a spinner, a knitter, and a lifelong leftie. (Politically, and with a spindle. Strange.) 

Using some of Abby's techniques plus my own, I took a look at a Facebook repost that, I sensed, was not kosher. (Specifics available on request. I'd rather not indulge clickbait.) The post attracted my attention because I know the person who (re)posted it. Without that link, I'd have just sighed and moved on. I decided to give her the benefit of my own doubt.

Before I even read the article, I noticed the level of other articles on the page. One asks "Can you handle a sugar mama in ___?" (I'll leave out the town, since I live nearby) . Another promised "Men, no need for Viagra if you do this (once daily)" - presumably, with the super-busty model in the photo.

Whomever wrote the piece has a shaky grasp of English norms ("Soros has invested so much on Hillary Clinton, who’s idea was open borders and decreased security. When Trump won, Soros lost huge amount and now he is trying to destroy every Trump’s attempt to make America great again").

All of my attempts to verify the article's claims on Politifact or Snopes yield "pants on fire" and "fake." Worst of all, searches about the originating site, WND, yield descriptions like this:
"Straddling the line of fake news and the occasional seed of truth is World News Daily Report. By cobbling together misattributed stolen photographs (and often using extant, long-circulating rumors), World News Daily Report has published several viral claims often preying upon readers’ religious beliefs, including hoaxes about a newly-discovered eyewitness account of Jesus’ miracles, an ancient rumor about chariot wheels found at the bottom of the Red Sea, and a very old yarn about the discovery of giant skeletons reworked as the tale of a coverup perpetrated by the Smithsonian Institution. "

I know that not everyone has the time or inclination to spend the 10 minutes that it took me to disprove the ugly claim in the article. I do hope, though, that everyone looks with great care when articles are posted that just...don't... smell... right.

Thanks for your inspiration, Abby Franquemont. Truth will prevail.

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