Falling for Satirical Articles

By Sarah Steighner

It is often easier and more entertaining to scroll through your news feed on your favorite social media site to get your news rather than actually read the New York Times. The wide range of articles reposted and re-tweeted offer a quick way to find out what your friends find interesting and newsworthy. While it is always in the back of a journalist or editor’s mind to fact check all information they come across for validity, this might not be a practice that the average social media junkie participates in.

With the ever increasing rise of internet popularity and online journalism, it might be wise to treat articles with skepticism until you recognize the site that published something as either credible or satirical.

Satirical sites often have humorous articles that play on irony and sarcasm to amuse the reader or poke fun at an issue or person. While not all satirical articles are meant to trick the reader, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Here are few examples of articles that have circulated around the internet with great popularity that have had their fun in confusing the masses and here’s why you shouldn’t fall for them.

Article: “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado on First Day of Legalization”

Article excerpt: “When was the last time you heard of someone overdosing on beer? All these pro-marijuana groups should be ashamed of themselves. The victims’ blood is on their hands.”

“One of the victims was 29-year-old Jesse Bruce Pinkman, a former methamphetamine dealer from Albuquerque who had recently moved to Boulder to establish a legal marijuana dispensary.”

Published on: Jan. 2, 2014

Published by: The Daily Currant (known satirical site)

Recorded re-tweets of the article: 9,119

Recorded Facebook “likes” of the article: 1.5 million

Why you shouldn’t believe it:  There has NEVER been a recorded case of someone dying from a so-called marijuana overdose.

What should have given it away: the references to Breaking Bad character, Jesse Pinkman & fictional character Dr. Jack Shepherd from Lost as sources.

Quick advice: Fact check names and sources. If you didn’t recognize The Daily Currant as a satirical site or the fictional sources mentioned, then a simple Google search of the site and names of sources would have helped you debunk this bogus story is seconds.

Link to the story: http://dailycurrant.com/2014/01/02/marijuana-overdoses-kill-37-in-colorado-on-first-day-of-legalization/

Article: “Pope Francis Condemns Racism And Declares That ‘All Religions Are True’ At Historic Third Vatican Council”

Article excerpt: “Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God” Pope Francis declared. In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there?”

Published on: Dec. 5, 2013

Published by: The Diversity Chronicle (known satirical site)

Recorded re-tweets of the article: 5k+

Recorded Facebook “likes” of the article”: 10k+

Why you shouldn’t believe it: No third Vatican Council has been convened.

What should have given it away: Blatant opposite teachings of the Catholic Church mentioned: ex. future woman as pope, Satan/hell as a metaphor.

Quick advice: Be well-read on the beliefs and history of a certain group before believing whatever you read about them. If you are already well-versed on the demographic you are reading about, fact check the story before you fall for something that goes completely against the beliefs of a group.

Link to the Story: http://diversitychronicle.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/pope-francis-condemns-racism-and-declares-that-all-religions-are-true-at-historic-third-vatican-council/

Article: “Exclusive: Harry Potter 8 Confirmed by J.K. Rowling!!”

Article excerpt: “With the disappointment of her first foray into adult fiction, The Casual Vacancy, Rowling soon confirmed she was working on a young adult novel, but not until today did we know what the book was. I practically jumped out of my seat when I saw that the book is indeed the untitled eighth book in the Harry Potter series!!”

Published on: April 1, 2013

Published by: Story Carnivores

Recorded re-tweets of the article: 6k+

Recorded Facebook “likes” of the article: 10k+

Why you shouldn’t believe it: The date the article was published.

What Should Have Given It Away: Daniel Radcliffe’s fictional ending quote “Wait, what day is it again?”

Quick Advice: Just because you can fill out your citation in MLA format with an article that was published and lists an author, and shows a published date does not make it credible. Don’t fall for something as simple as an April Fool’s joke.

Link to the Story: http://storycarnivores.com/2013/04/01/exclusive-harry-potter-8-confirmed-by-j-k-rowling/

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