For instance... (and follow the responses)
I am a big reader of the Suffolk Gazette. I have linked to them before and I have them in my sidebar. Of course, the whole point of the Suffolk Gazette is carried in their strap line - "YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP". The Suffolk Gazette has as much resemblance to life in Suffolk as this blog is an everyday tale of country folk in a small Bedfordshire village.Queen given Framlingham Castle for 90th birthday by the nation. Cue the outrage. https://t.co/eMbtwO1crh pic.twitter.com/BZLEGPW2nF— RICHARD KEMP (@COLRICHARDKEMP) April 21, 2016
There's ways to slant the chances of spotting spoofs (or lies), of course. For example:
- If the news story has anonymous spokespeople, or a farmer called "Maurice Piper"
- If it features in Snopes with the word "False" against it.
- If the source page doesn't exist, or has a cookies message that seems oddly interested in beer.
- If it is so outrageously stereotypical about the people you are asked to be angry about, that it is clearly not true. NB this does not normally apply to stories about Donal Trump, which are all true.
- If it appears on a known fake website.#
- If, like the David Cameron "pig" story, there is only unlikely and inconsistent evidence from somebody who might have a reason to put the story in the media.
- If you really want it to be true.
But - the trouble is - sometimes we like the frenzy more than the truth. I once received a chain email from someone complaining about a play that (a) was blasphemous and (b) was doing the rounds of the UK. I replied pointing out that the play (a) was not as bad as it was being painted and (b) hadn't been shown in the UK for years, with no plans to re-stage it.
The person who sent me the email replied that, even if what I said was true, he was glad he'd warned everybody.
And took me off his mailing list.
Internet horror. Because sometimes the truth is just too truthful.