Introduction: Satire is a venerable form of social commentary that uses humor to ridicule human vices and follies. The Internet is rife with it, especially news satire, or fake news, consisting of fictionalized accounts of current events presented in mock-journalistic style to lampoon politicians, celebrities, and social mores.
Satire is only effective if people recognize it as such, however, and therein lies a major pitfall of propagating fake news on the Internet. Users tend to skim texts instead of reading them, missing important clues and disclaimers. The mechanics of social sharing obscure the origin and aim of viral content, increasing the likelihood that fiction will be mistaken for (or misrepresented as) fact.
Below you'll find a checklist of the most popular fake news sites on the web. Share as needed!
Recently in fake news:
• Body Found Under Motel Bed, Police Say It Has Been There 5 Years
• Obama Sending 2,000 Troops to Gaza Strip
• KKK Starts Online Petition for Yearly 'Purge' of African Americans
• 112 Murdered by Teens Reenacting "The Purge 2" Movie
• "Hot Convict" Jeremy Meeks Killed By Wife
• Illegal Immigrants Forcibly Occupy Small Texas Town
Andy Borowitz is a genuinely funny humorist and best-selling author whose satirical news column, The Borowitz Report, debuted in 2001 and is currently hosted by NewYorker.com. Most of his columns are literally too hilarious to be believed, yet some people insist on doing so. Welcome to the Internet.
Call The Cops bills itself as "America's 27th most trusted source for public safety news." Articles satirize law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical work. "Stories posted here are not real and you should not assume them to have any basis in any real fact," states the site disclaimer
. "Heck we tend to leave in spelling and grammer errors just to prove we is not the professional media."
With boldfaced taglines like "News unencumbered by the facts" and "Proud publishers of fake news since 2005," it may seem incredible that people have mistaken Carbolic Smoke Ball's faux journalism for the real thing, but it has happened
and probably will happen again. Caveat lector (reader beware)!
From the About page
: "Written by comedian CREAM. This website is comprised of satire and parody of current news and urban culture. For entertainment purposes only." Do not mistake what you read on this site for real news.
About The Daily Currant:
Q. Are your news stories real?
A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world.
This more recent spin-off of the Empire Sports website (see below) brings a similar warped sensibility and star-struck emphasis to general "news" of the day. The site describes itself as a "satirical and entertainment website."
This site specializes in lampooning sports and sports celebrities. It originally carried no satire disclaimer per se, but the phrase "News Satire" was visible on the top navigation bar of every page. With headlines like "Dog Killing Debuts As New Sport In 2014 Winter Olympics," there's no mistaking this site's content for actual news.
Free Wood Post offers social and political spoofs from a liberal point of view, mercilessly skewering right-wing politics and politicians, as well as the occasional out-of-control sports figure or self-indulgent Hollywood celebrity. From its disclaimer page
: "Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental."
This site isn't really satirical, nor is it particularly funny. Fake news stories with a Global Associated News masthead are generated by ordinary folks via the prank website FakeAWish.com
. Fill in a celebrity's name, and out pops a boilerplate article claiming he or she was maimed or killed in some horrific accident. Strange as it seems, these hoaxes consistently fool people. A lot of people.
"About Us: Huzlers.com is a combination of real shocking news and satire news to keep its visitors in a state of disbelief." (If that statement makes sense to you, there's a chance you'll actually find this fake news site funny and entertaining. Otherwise, I doubt it.)