The latest evidence of our increasing gullibility to fake news sites exploded on the Internet when a site calling itself “ABCNews.com.co” announced that the Church of Scientology had had its tax exempt status revoked by the Supreme Court.
A site calling itself “abcnews.com.co” to intentionally fool people into believing its actually the real ABC NEWS site launched an article no doubt designed to go viral, and boy did it.
The fake article, titled, “The United States Revokes Scientology’s Tax-Exempt Status” exploded in social media, (after most likely being strategically seeded in social by the site, as this seems to be their M.O.), and once again, social media did not disappoint in jumping on the “Its on the Internet so it must be true” bandwagon.
Some people tried to alert others that the story was bunk, but to no avail, as the fake news story replicated throughout social media:
THIS IS A FALSE. Phony web site. Fooled me!
The United States Revokes Scientology’s Tax-Exempt Statushttps://t.co/ICKffPptO3 …
— Tweetwit (@awebbiz) March 12, 2016
And in perhaps a sign of the sad state of professional journalism, even professional journalists were fooled by the fake news site:
Snopes.com, the “gold standard” of “is it true” on the Internet, quickly published a piece declaring the news story “FALSE” but it seemed to do little to sway the throngs of social media users who ran away with the story anyways.
All in all, it’s the Internet’s latest reminder to check Snopes.com and Google.com for news veracity when you see that “WOW” item in your feed before automatically sharing it with your friends.