Got your attention, didn’t I?
Look, we need to talk. You keep seeing crazy stuff on the web, and sharing it to Facebook so your friends can share your outrage and/or delight. And the thing is… you’re being used.
It’s not totally your fault. It used to be, there were news sites, there were opinion sites, and then there were satire sites like The Onion. Actual satire sites that set out to make people laugh while also slyly critiquing current events.
But now there are “parody” news sites like Empire News. I put “parody” in quotes because unlike The Onion or even the Daily Currant, these sites don’t give a shit about entertaining you. They aren’t out to inform you, amuse you, or critique anything.
All these sites care about is using your Facebook feed to sell ads.
Here’s a screenshot from one of these sites:
The “article” is neither true, nor a clever send-up of real news. It’s just a poorly-written invented story with just the right balance of reality and absurdity to get you to hit that big fat “share” button.
Yes, there’s an “about” link you can click on that will let you know that you’re on an “entertainment” site, not a real news site. But they are counting on the fact that nobody will ever click on that.
There are some resources you can use if you want to know something is for real or not:
- Snopes: the gold standard
- RealOrSatire: This one is new to me, but it seems like a handy site.
…but honestly, you rarely need those sites. Ask yourself two questions:
- Does this title seem link link-bait?
- Is the site completely plastered in ads, like the screenshot above?
If so, chances are it’s just a ploy to get you to help them sell your friends’ eyeballs to advertisers.
Look, I’m not here to tell you to only post Serious, Important News to your Facebook feed. I just don’t want to see you be suckered by sites that are using you as nothing more than free ad-space. If they want to use your space as a billboard, they should at least pay you for the privilege.