Despite ads you might have seen, “Fixer Upper” star, Joanna Gaines is NOT leaving the HGTV home improvement show to start her own skincare line.
This fake news story – in typical fake news form – was propagated via social media. Many were led to believe that Gaines had “been leading a double life,” “started a side beauty business because she is a serial entrepreneur,” and that the ‘authors’ were going to “reveal the truth behind what this side business is really all about…”
All this is not true. But the article sure did look real!
It even had the official looking People Magazine logo attached to it.
This phony story exemplified some of the common ways fake news stories trick readers. Below, we highlight those ways and how you can go about finding the truth.
1. It was all over social media
In a way, social media is a transparent medium. We can “listen” to the inner thoughts of our favorite celebrities and share personal stories with friends in real time.
But social media isn’t a fair playing field. The transparency you’ve gotten used to can easily be turned against you.
Fake news ‘publishers’ use social media to spread a bogus claim because stuff like this tends to go viral.
Find the truth by… Tracing the story back to its original source.
Start reading a fake news article and there may be some dead giveaways that it’s fake. One article went on to quote “Fappy the Anti-Masturbation Dolphin” as a source. Which just goes to show you that if you look keenly enough, the truth is right in front of you.
2. It used a reputable logo, which may validate it for many people
The online advertisements that were making these claims about Gaines used the People logo to trick readers into thinking it was an actual People article.
The lesson here is that anyone can steal a graphic, slap it on a bogus story and call it a real story.
Find the truth by… Checking multiple sources.
Cross-reference everything you read online – especially if something sounds too (crazy, weird, shocking, provocative) or too-whatever. Fake news is designed to cause extreme reactions so it can go viral.
By checking multiple sources, you’re ensuring that you aren’t being gullible to some random jerk’s Photoshopping skills.
3. Fake news stories are thoroughly written
The fake Gaines story went into some deep (but false) issues that made the story feel like it was valid. Things like; what her husband thinks and that Lori Greiner from Shark Tank was an investor.
At first, such details make you think there’s something to it. But remember, anyone with a computer or a smart phone can publish a story – and that makes for a lot of BS on the Internet.
Find the truth by… Verifying who wrote it.
Always verify who the author is. Find the byline and Google the author’s name. What else has the author written and where do his or her articles appear?
By doing this research you can help validate if the person is a credible journalist trusted by multiple publications or if you need to consider the person’s identity more closely.
You may also be able to find out directly from the person the story is about whether the claims are real or false. Oftentimes, a celebrity or person of interest in a story will use their social media profiles to deny a rumor.
In Joanna’s case, she wrote a blog post herself disputing the truth of the article that was titled, “Don’t Believe Everything You Read.”
In this day in age, validating what you read should be a healthy routine like brushing your teeth.
Always do a search engine search of the story-in-question to see if anything comes up that disputes it. Legitimate fact-checking sites, such as Snopes.com, are also an excellent resource.
Never take something for fact on the Internet, even if the source seems trustworthy. Double-check – heck, triple-check – everything you read.
And if you want to dig a little deeper, PeopleLooker’s database of public records just might lead you to some interesting / shocking / helpful discoveries.