The True Story about Fake News

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I woke up to something interesting this morning. A friend messaged me and said “did you see this?” with a link. I thought maybe someone important shared my Cinco de Mayo blog post from just a few days prior. But no. It was so much more than that. We talk a lot about “fake news” nowadays. You know when you innocently click “share”, post an article on Facebook, and you’ve got that one friend who goes “Have you fact-checked this?”? Well, we need more of those anal retentive friends.

Because here’s what happens:

  • Mom posts beautiful ‘pro-breastfeeding in public’ photograph to her blog.
  • People get paid to scour the internet for controversial photographs.
  • Breastfeeding is a controversial topic.
  • Photograph stolen {cropped to remove watermark}.
  • Fake news story written.
  • Topic triggers opinions; elicits responses.
  • People comment with what they believe to be thoughtful responses based on their moral/ethical standing on a particular topic.
  • Then people share the fake news so their friends can formulate opinions to share.

Well, to the community of people who either cannot or have not breastfed: it is virtually impossible to simultaneously sit, breastfeed your child, pull out your other breast, aim it at a stander-by, and squirt milk in their face while yelling profanities. If this were possible, I would have marketed this skill for profit long ago! This is not an occurrence that anyone should have an opinion about, and based on this Facebook share, there are many opinions about this:

So how do we know if it’s “fake news”? Well, there are a few pretty big clues on this website:

1. Misspelling of very basic words within the title of the article itself. “Complaints” instead of “complains”.

2. No credible links to click-through. Hello, reliable sources!

3. Lots of ads surrounding the article.

4. Fake news lining the bottom of the article.

Problem is? This is damaging. And it’s not damaging because my ego took a hit or people had opinions of my photo that can impact my reputation. I really couldn’t care less. Hell, I was called “young” and a “distraction to husbands” so I should be flattered, right? But it is damaging to issues that are actually important. I’m a huge “breastfeeding in public” advocate. I would hate to think that this nonsense would influence anyone’s opinion of confidently feeding their young in a public place. I would hate to think that young mothers may see something like this and formula-feed instead. I would hate to think that bloggers would be afraid to post honest photographs because they don’t want to deal with the backlash.

A friend recently posted a series of photographs of ill/injured children, and each one had a caption about how vaccines had harmed the child. I commented about how we don’t really know that those children were vaccine-injured. Maybe they were; maybe they weren’t. And that’s the thing. We can collect all different types of pictures of pretty much any random thing, say that all of those random things were the result of this one thing, and people will believe it because there are words and photographs. Hell, we don’t even need photographs. We had a political advisor completely fabricate an entire terrorist massacre in a matter of seconds on the news, and as a result, instilled fear in Americans that something like that could potentially happen again if we did not guard ourselves.The internet is an absolutely wonderful place to gain knowledge. There’s a funny scene in the show How I Met Your Mother. Five friends are sitting together in a bar in the midst of a heated debate. The scene was supposed to take place pre-2006, I believe. The post-2006 clip has them all staring at smartphones, and one of them alludes to the debate they had had previously, with a fact related to the debate. Nowadays, the absolute moment we have a question, we have an answer. The problem is, everyone wants to capitalize on our impulsivity. Create a fictitious response to a simple question, add a semi-related photograph, and optimize the hell out of it. Few question the credibility of sources.

I shared this article in a blogging group asking: What could I {or should I} do about this? And within minutes, several similar articles were found, dating back to almost a year ago. The photo, the same nonsense story. I mean… how do people think these things are related? Who would’ve taken this photograph in this particular scenario?

 

In the current Age of {Mis}Information, how the heck do we get people to actually think for themselves?

{Also, how much money do you think my boobs haven’t earned me, but rather someone else?}

About Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

Dr. Carrie Wells is a college instructor, blogger, wife, and work-at-home mother to two children, Lydia (age 7) and Bryce (age 5). Carrie earned her doctorate in Special Education in 2008. After becoming a mother in 2009, Carrie began blogging as Huppie Mama to share her passions for cooking, crafting, beautifying, and her family. In 2016, she rebranded as Our Potluck Family, and her husband Richard became a regular contributor.
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One Response to The True Story about Fake News

  1. Wow! I’m glad you have observant friends and I hope this gets rectified somehow. Is there legal recourse?

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