Stop Believing Fake News & Making the World a Dumber Place

What frustrates me is seeing someone on Facebook post an angry comment with an attached news article – which happens to be fake and they don’t even realize it.

If that’s you, you’re not only making yourself ill-informed, you’re making the world a more ignorant (and more dangerous) place. So I ask and implore you, please stop.

You’ve seen this scenario before. Maybe you’ve been the culprit.

You’re scrolling down your Facebook news feed and you see an article your friend posts. They comment with something like, “OMG I can’t believe this” or “This is so horrible” or “This makes me so angry right now.”

Attached is a link to a news article titled  “Obamacare law requires an RFID chip implanted in all of us,”Japanese Whaling Crew Eaten Alive by Killer Whales,” or “NYPD Officer Kills Baby Following Breastfeeding Argument.”

Any of these sound familiar? Then there’s a list of angry comments from their friends who also express their anger.

Then, finally, a friendly passerby comments, “This is fake.” The original poster either responds casually with an “LOL I can’t believe I fell for that” or an angry “Grrrr stupid fake website.” But then they to do it again in the future. The person usually takes it lightly and brushes it off as being the victim of another internet hoax.

If this is you, I have a very serious message for you:

Please consider your actions and stop. This is not a laughing matter.

We live in an era of unequivocally limitless access to information and truth – check your sources and don’t believe everything you see in your news feed.

Stop posting and spreading fake stories to your friends – it’s spreading ignorance and misinforming people. Not only that, it’s actually inciting anger, creating the context for hate and violence, and making the world into a more dangerous place. Here’s how.

You Are Reinforcing Ignorance. Stop.

You have access to unlimited information. You have the ability to search, investigate and confirm. If you see an outrageous story, don’t just believe it. Fact check it.

Each time you read a fake story and automatically believe it, you’re training yourself to do it again. And if no one tells you that what you read and believed was actually wrong, then you’re believing false information. Every time you read a story, you are building your worldview with information from that story.

Think about it.

How many times has someone pointed out to you that something you heard and believed was wrong? Now, think about all the possible times you did read and believe something false, and no one pointed it out.

Scary, isn’t it? All those little viral stories and news articles you’ve skimmed through over the years and believed as truth. Which were actually real? How have they affected your view on the world or on people? How has it influenced your attitude and decisions? Who and what could you possibly be angry at, because of a story, that you really shouldn’t be?

You Are Making People Around You Careless. Stop.

When you share that false story online, your friends are likely to believe you. Because after all, you’re their friend, you want to share with them the best information possible, so why wouldn’t they believe you?

You are now reinforcing the same bad traits of gullibility, as well as providing them with false information. And as viral stories go, they share with their friends and so on.

Now you have millions of people believing the same false information and developing the same habits of believing anything they hear. It’s actively creating a society of people who are careless with what they believe, share, and act upon.

You Are Breeding Prejudice, Anger, Hate, Violence and Conflict. Stop Hurting People.

Yes, you are making the world a more dangerous place and may not realize the consequences of your actions. These stories are written with sensational titles that are designed to get people emotionally charged. It gets you upset and angry, so you click on the story and share it with your friends, wanting to spread the awareness. You readily read and share the story because it reaffirms your existing beliefs, especially if the story slanders a specific person or group of people, because it confirms what you want to believe about them.

Now you and other people are getting angry at the subject of the news article. Because you believe it’s true, you form that opinion about that person or group. The next time you read another article, whether it’s true or not, you view it through your pre-established bias. When you’re biased about something, you start seeing what you want to believe. So you reaffirm more and more this belief, which was ultimately built upon a lie.

You know what that results in? Prejudice. Stereotypes. Racism. Hate. Violence.

Isn’t that the cause of any fight, riot, conflict or war? A group of people have a narrative of the other group as being bad people out to hurt them, which at some point in history was formed out of a mixture of truth and lies.

Think about it.

Which person, ethnic group, neighborhood, country, religion, political group, occupation do you despise? Why? Now think of all the hate speech and conflict that has occurred involving that person or group.

When you spread false information that gets people angry, you reinforce negative and harmful prejudices that ultimately lead to others getting hurt. Don’t believe me?

Visit a fake post (there’s a list of sites below) and read the comments. See all the people getting violently angry over something fake? This isn’t a funny internet hoax. This is how people end up hurting and killing each other. Just read the real news. How much of that violence was spurred on from prejudices that were formed out of lies, whether from online or another person?

Out of Love for You, Your Friends, My Friends, and Our World.

I’m sorry if this sounded harsh. I’ve held it in for a while and cringed every time I saw someone post a fake article, photo, or video on Facebook. When no one has pointed out the truth, I’ve tried to politely comment. But it continues to happen.

I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, and say this out of love. Please, put an end to careless ignorance, because I know and believe that this is not who you are. You are far more intelligent, responsible and caring than that.

You’re capable of creating a different type of world.

Let’s share real stories of heroic courage and triumph which inspire people to rise to their potential. Let’s also share real stories of tragedy and evil which cause people to discuss, collaborate, and create solutions.

Let’s share stories that are worth sharing, so we can create a world worth living in for everyone.

[bctt tweet=”Let’s share stories that are worth sharing, so we can create a world worth living in for everyone.”]

An Ongoing List of Fake Satire News Sites

Now I have no problem with satire. It’s intended to be funny. The Onion is one of my favorites. But satire is intended to take truth and mock it by creating a version that is obviously false, at least to most people.

Yet a lot of these new fake sites popping up are publishing complete garbage. They are writing in a way that is intended to be believable and incite strong negative emotions in people, ultimately to prey on the gullible and get more web traffic, which equals more money. Some mix in fake news with real news and don’t distinguish between them, so people get confused.

Here is an ongoing list of sites so you know what’s fake out there. I’ll try to update when I come across more. There are hundreds, but these are some of the more popular ones. Please write in the comments any sites you come across.

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