A recently trending story on the departed.co’s website showed Vladimir Putin claiming that if ISIS bombed Russia, in half an hour every Muslim would die. If you believed it, you’ve been punked, big time. The sharp increase in popularity of social media networks (primarily Facebook) has created a predatory secondary market among online publishers seeking to profitably exploit the large reach of those networks and their huge customer bases by spreading fake news and outlandish rumors. Competition for social media’s large supply of willing eyeballs is fierce, and a number of frequent offenders regularly fabricate salacious and attention-grabbing tales simply to drive traffic (and revenue) to their sites.
Hoaxes and fake news are often little more than annoyances to unsuspecting readers; but sometimes circulating stories negatively affect businesses or localities by spreading false, disruptive claims that are widely believed.
World News Daily Report
Straddling the line of fake news and the occasional seed of truth is World News Daily Report. By cobbling together misattributed stolen photographs (and often using extant, long-circulating rumors), World News Daily Report has published several viral claims often preying upon readers’ religious beliefs, including hoaxes about a newly-discovered eyewitness account of Jesus’ miracles, an ancient rumor about chariot wheels found at the bottom of the Red Sea, and a very old yarn about the discovery of giant skeletonsreworked as the tale of a coverup perpetrated by the Smithsonian Institution. However, World News Daily Report frequently branches out to science-based fakery, including japes about the destruction of the world’s oldest tree and another about the discovery of a Megalodon shark in Pakistan.
Note that often this causes other problems because the uninformed often confuse World News Daily for World Net Daily, which is a credible news agency. Many of these sites do it not to keep people informed, but solely to generate what we call “click bait.” Click bait is the revenue generated through Internet advertising found on each one of these aggregators. The more people click on these stories, the more people will click on the ads. It’s like National Enquirer on Steroids.
BEWARE as these sites proliferate, as there are so many of them now, it would be difficult to give you a complete list of them.