Sorry for the misleading headline, but this is important.
Please take a seat.
Can we get you something to drink?
Want a bottle of water? It’s all we got. Are you sure? Ok, suit yourself then.
We have all gathered here today because people keep believing stupid things they read on the Internet.
I don’t know what it means, but it ain’t good for society.
Hundreds of thousands of people have recently clicked on stories that claim that Leonardo Dicaprio was literally raped by a bear in the Revenant (talk about Oscar level commitment that would have been), claim that Miley Cyrus died and that Casey Anthony was murdered and found in the back of a pickup truck.
Read More: No Internet, Casey Anthony Is Not Dead
None of them are at all true and yet they have made money for sleazy Internet mud purveyors who hide in the shadows of anonymity.
These fake stories are everywhere and by all accounts, people believe them.
In a world where anyone can create a website that looks legitimate with only a few hours of work, anything is possible.
But this faux story really takes the cake.
A BS news website called the McKenzie Post wrote a junky little fake news item titled “Katy Perry is Moving to Wetumpka, Alabama.” Within a week, the story had been shared hundreds of times on social media and has racked up nearly 150 comments of mostly excited people looking forward to meeting their new star neighbor.
But let’s be clear about one thing. Katy Perry is not moving to Wetumpka, Alabama. Because of course she isn’t!
Read More: No Internet, Miley Cyrus Is Not Dead
“Not a lot of people have heard of the small town of Wetumpka, Alabama, but superstar Katy Perry happens to be one of them,” the fake news item reads. “Located about 20 miles outside of Montgomery, Alabama, Wetumpka is a peaceful town filled with people who have almost no connection to the LA lifestyle that Katy Perry wants to escape and that’s exactly what she likes about it.”
Now to be fair, the piece is written in such a way that it could seem legit to a person who is not spending much time thinking about the context or basic reality.
“I want a farm, I want cattle, I want chickens!” a fake quote attributed to Katy Perry reads. “I’m not giving up my career, I just want to move to a place that feels so different than what I’ve been used to all my life. For me, that place is Wetumpka, Alabama.”
But don’t feel bad Alabama.
In both of those instances, hundreds of people also shared the nearly identical fake news item.
Maybe we should teach students in class on how to better evaluate sources?
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!
Cover Photo Credit: Fake Website/ (Screengrab)