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Fiction As Fact: The Power Of Fake News

Weekly World News



The fake news phenomenon. How do these stories get started, and how can you avoid falling for them?

Fake news used to be the realm of supermarket tabloids with stories of UFOs and Elvis. Instead of the checkout line, bogus stories are now being peddled on social media, where they spread like wildfire.

One such falsehood came to be dubbed #Pizzagate and involved a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor, child sex trafficking and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The conspiracy theory drove a Salisbury man, Edgar Welch, to arm himself and travel to the restaurant to “investigate.”

But Welch isn’t alone. Plenty of people are duped by the fire hydrant of fake news coming their way. A recent survey found that three-fourths of fake news consumers have been fooled by these stories. And Facebook is the main culprit.

How did the line between fact and fiction become so blurred? Where does this fake news come from? When did fake news go from humorous, along the lines of The Onion and “The Daily Show,” to sinister? And what can be done to avoid falling prey to bunk?


Dr. Jonathan Albright, assistant professor of communications, Elon University

Brooke Binkowski, managing editor, Snopes.com


The Comet Ping Pong Gunman Answers Our Reporter's QuestionsThe New York Times

The #Election2016 Micro-Propaganda Machine, Jonathan Albright, medium.com

Someone On The Internet Is Wrong. That's Where I Come In, Brooke Binkowski, The Washington Post

How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study, Sapna Maheshrari, The New York Times