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The Xenophile Historian

K. U. P.

(Kimball's Unauthorized Perversion)

Spotting Fake News

In the past, there was general agreement that most news organizations were responsible enough to only publish stories about events that really happened, to the best of their knowledge. Also, they would check their sources, and only use reliable ones. And we knew that tabloids in the checkout line at the local supermarket were not to be trusted, thanks to the absurd stories in one of them, The Weekly World News. At least the Weekly World News admitted to being satire when it stopped publishing paper editions in the real world. And we knew that a few websites, like The Onion, deliberately posted satire; that was good for laughs. Along that line, my favorite political humor site is The People's Cube, where conservatives go to pretend they are communists.

Today I am running into untrustworthy news stories all the time, especially on Facebook. Many of them come from a few writers in Macedonia, who make good money by grinding them out. They are made popular by social media, where all too many people accept the stories on face value. And even on the mainstream sites, journalism has become so sloppy that I routinely see spelling and grammar errors in the stories. They should hire me as a proofreader!

Here is a list of the fake news sites I have found so far. I won't post links to them, because they probably make money when enough people visit the sites. My advice is this: please don't share stories from them, except to make your friends laugh. Many of them are written with a right-wing slant, to fool those of us with conservative tendencies. For me, The World News Daily Report is the worst offender; not only does it pretend to be a conservative news site, Worldnet Daily, but I see its fake stories about Christianity and the Exodus every week. Forewarned is forearmed!

Sites known to have fake news: (news lifted straight from The National Reporter) (misleading headlines) (potentially fake stories, annoying popups) (utterly false stories) (a mixture of real and fake news) (maybe not satirical but a lot are definitely fake) (News lifted straight from The National Reporter without checking them) ( (another satire site) (a combination of outdated and fake stories) (seems to be a mixture of satire/real news with no obvious way to tell which is which)

If you come across a news story that does not come from the list, how do you tell if it is fake? Here is how I do it:

  1. If you see it first on social media, rather than on a well-known news site, chances are it is fake news.
  2. If a news headline tells you which emotion you should be feeling, like "What Trump Just Did Should Terrify You," chances are it is fake news.
  3. If you are told to share the story with everyone you know, like the urban legends and fake virus warnings, it is definitely fake news.
  4. (My favorite) Go to the website's home page, and check out the other news stories on it. If you can't believe the stories, chances are it is a fake news site. Any well-designed website has links to the home page/index page on every page, so if I find the site doesn't have those links, that's another giveaway.
  5. If you find an article organized so that every picture or factoid is on a different page, and you have to click on links that say "Next" to get to each one, it may not be fake news, but it's definitely clickbait. Don't bother following the links. The owner of the website and the advertisers are looking to squeeze out as many clicks (hits) as possible from each visitor, to maximize their popularity and revenue. As long as you are on a clickbait site, they are getting more from your visit than you.
  6. If an article has a misleading headline, and nothing is said in the body of the article text about what's in the headline, you've been hit with a double whammy -- the article is both fake news and clickbait.
  7. If a headline includes the word "disrupt," like "This Company is Disrupting a $200 Million Industry," that's not news, that's spam. If you click on it, you'll get a tedious infomercial.
  8. And if almost every story from a network (e.g., CNN) or website is about the president of the United States, that isn't news, that's an obsession!
To summarize all this: "Don't believe anything you read on the Internet or hear on my radio show (or any other show, for that matter) unless you can confirm it with another source, and/or it is consistent with what you already know to be true. Yes, that does include information obtained from this site."--Neal Boortz (a talk show host)

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