Fake news shared widely via social media

I’ve been writing a lot about fake news lately, and I see no signs of the growing concerns and accusations going away any time soon.

While we in the mainstream media receive our share of fake news accusations, there is a significant difference between honest errors that unfortunately occur in everyday reporting or editing and the intentional spread of rumor or innuendo without verification or validation.

This week as I was scanning the Associated Press wire, I came across a very interesting story titled, “NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week.”

Like most of us in the media facing “fake news” scrutiny, the AP apparently has created a new weekly column to fact-check claims in what that news agency suspects are false news stories. The AP pointed out that often it sees stories that aren’t legit, yet they are shared widely on social media.

While the spread of stories that are completely untrue through social media and other means is very alarming, I must admit, I was very entertained by this AP column’s conversational style and the ridiculous nature of the stories that they outlined. I thought I’d share a few with you.

NOT REAL: U.S. Department of State suspends New York Times license

THE FACTS: The account claiming the State Department suspended the newspaper’s operational permit after it criticized Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is “completely false,” Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha says. There is no permit required for U.S. news organizations (see the First Amendment), and there is no issue with the newspaper’s foreign press credentials, she said. A website made up to look like a CNN outlet says in a story published last month that the State Department accused The Times of “breaking communication code of ethics” in a matter that could cause diplomatic challenges between the two countries.

NOT REAL: Sarah Palin out of her coma, able to identify her attackers

THE FACTS: More than half a dozen sites have run the same verbatim account of a hit-and-run accident on California’s Pacific Coast Highway involving the former Alaska governor, followed up by stories alleging Palin emerged from her coma to identify her assailants. A spokesman for Palin tells the AP the reports are “as fake as fake can be.” The sites report that the accident happened April 28, when Palin’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were active.

NOT REAL: Robertson: David Bowie is not dead, he was kidnapped by demons summoned by rock music

THE FACTS: This account first published by politicops.com last year and recently recycled by admitted hoax site uspoln.com began with an accurate answer by “700 Club” host Pat Robertson to a teenager’s written question on whether it was OK to listen to rock music. Robertson replied that some rock wasn’t “all that bad,” but some “is just evil.” A spokesman for Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network tells the AP that the evangelist made no mention of Bowie, who died on Jan. 10, 2016.

I guess it’s all fun and games until a dead rocker comes back to life.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all mothers — and especially mine — on this very special day.

I’m happy to report that I’ll be spending my Mother’s Day at a Struthers ball park watching my 14-year-old son wrap up a weekend tournament.

I doubt we’ll take home the trophy, but quite frankly, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be today, just being a mom on Mother’s Day. That acceptance of my kids for what they are was instilled in me by my own mother, and for that, I’m always grateful.

So, whatever all you mothers are doing today, I hope it’s relaxing and enjoyable. That goes especially to you, mom. I miss you, and hope to see you soon. Happy Mother’s Day!