Reprint courtesy of Fort Liberty.
A small group of morally-challenged individuals have discovered that there is a great deal of money to be made by publishing fake news articles. These rags publish ridiculous headlines like “Monsanto is Killing Your Children”, “Ukrainians Worship the Devil”, and “Hillary Clinton’s Secret Affair with Vladimir Putin”.
Website owners make money from ads that display when you click on posts.
These inflammatory headlines are then promoted though social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It appears that the more inflammatory and unbelievable the headline, the better it spreads through social media. Debunking these stories can be almost impossible, as the “facts” they contain are unverifiable and therefore un-falsifiable. Although there is no evidence that Hillary Clinton is having an affair with Vladimir Putin, there is also not evidence that she is not having an affair with Vladimir Putin.
A few of these web sites may be run by truly insane people who actually believe what they publish, but if so that is a small minority. One of the proofs of this is how obviously fake the articles are. Old and heavily debunked articles from several years age are routinely updated with new dates and names and republished as new stories. Some site owners may believe that they are trying to shift public opinion by convincing the public to believe outrageous lies. Followers of this Overton Window theory believe that by making wildly unbelievable and bombastic claims, their slightly less unbelievable claims will feel more acceptable to readers. While this certainly may be true, that does not make it a morally acceptable strategy for discussing public policy. Other site owners may feel that they are simply “talking to their base” and that this relieves them of any moral duty to tell the truth.
… a reflection of the sad state of moral thinking in our society today.
A few sites claim to be “humor” or “satire” sites and exist mainly to provide links which people can use to fool unsuspecting victims on social media. These sites will sometimes post a disclaimer in the site footer, but often these disclaimers will disappear and reappear over time. A small number of sites on our list are simply government-funded propaganda sites which post ridiculous claims from tyrannical governments which want to improve their public image or attack the public images of their opponents.
The sites on the list below are a mix of all of these types of sites. Strict categorization is not simple as many of these sites exist in multiple categories or switch between categories based upon whatever proves to be most profitable at the current time.
Each of these sites may, at times, publish legitimate news articles.
This is a useful technique for making the illegitimate articles harder to spot. The fact that a home burglar doesn’t rob houses three nights a week does not make him any less of a home burglar. The fact that some of these sites occasionally posts a legitimate article does not make the publication itself legitimate. Any news site will occasionally publish a poorly-researched article. To earn a spot on this list, the publication must show a clear disregard for the objective truth. We all know how terribly mainstream media outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN fail to promote legitimate news stories.
The promise of alternative media is …
we can do better than traditional centralized mass-media.
The publishers listed above are purposefully failing to do better. They are actually doing a worse job than the mainstream media — something many of us once thought impossible.