Its All Up for Interpretation

As an experiment, I took to the internet to find a story that was clearly fake, but looked as official as possible. That is when I came across an article from World Weekly News explaining how Punxsutawney Phil, the famous PA ground hog that checks for its shadow every year, has committed suicide. Interestingly enough, no one really had anything to say on Twitter. A few of my friends liked the story, so I texted them about it asking what they thought. The majority realized it was fake quite quickly and moved on with their day, but one of my friends was somewhat convinced by simply just skimming the article that it was real. He was explaining to me that if you do not really take the time to look closely at the article and just glance over the paragraphs, it can look convincing; which is a scary thought.

I had 2 people from my high school text me about the story, but their responses were mostly just the crying laughing emoji or explaining why that is ridiculous. I think choosing Twitter and expecting any crazy feedback may have been naive of me, since most of my Twitter followers are my friends, who for the most part, are college-educated. On Facebook however, I am friends with a more academically diverse group of people who would have been more likely to speak their mind about the article, and some would definitely have been convinced.

I do not think that my captioning helped my goal of trying to make Twitter users believe that it was real since I referenced a J Cole line right off the bat. I think if I would have captioned it more realistically and not made it sound like a joke, I may have received more of the feedback that I was hoping for. I am almost certain that if I had led off my caption with just the latter of the tweet, I would have had some people who actually believed the story.

Stories like this are all over Twitter and Facebook and are becoming increasingly more difficult to differentiate between true and fake. When I was on Twitter last night thinking of what story I was going to use, just scrolling through my timeline I saw probably about 8–10 fake stories/tweets from various accounts that I follow specifically created for this sort of false news spreading. Twitter has many “Not … …” accounts that tweet like a certain person or group would, but by leading with not, they instantly alert you to the satirical nature of the tweets. For example, I follow Fake CNN on Twitter and they daily churn out ridiculous stories/tweets that could confuse someone who is not an avid internet user who could be confused during the differentiation process between real and fake news.

This idea of fake news is alarming. We now, more than ever, are on all social media platforms reading posts and stories with very little idea if they are valid or not. At this point, we are basically interpreting what we read and then deciding the validity for ourselves.

As you use social media, please be conscious as to what you are reading and always have an understanding that what you are looking at has a very large chance of being satirical reporting. You gotta be careful out there…