True, False or Tumblr: Why You Should Question Everything

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Can you BELIEVE these celebrities said these things?

Well…you shouldn’t. Because they didn’t. I just made up quotes (okay, the Ke$ha one is an homage to 10 Things I Hate About You) and slapped them on images of celebs who are known for saying outlandish things. It took me maybe 10 minutes to do, and most of that was spent Googling for the right pictures to use.

So, why do I bring this up? Because as celebrity news becomes more and more reliant on online sources for their news, quotes and scandals, it becomes easier and easier to fake news, quotes and scandals.

In the past week Buzznet has reported on two of these. The first involved Lady Gaga supposedly smack-talking both Adele and Nicki Minaj. There was no link to the source of the quotes, no videos, just quotes on Tumblr, at least one of them imposed on top of a gif of Gaga….who’s not even mouthing any of the words featured in the quote.

The OTHER was a bit more serious. A screencap started circulating that was supposedly of Rihanna’s Twitter, making it look like she was apologizing and excusing Chris Brown’s 2009 beating of her because she had provoked him. Of course, the screencap turned out to be faked, but not before a bunch of gossip blogs got their hands on it…

…Oh, and MTV Canada reported it as fact and claimed RiRi was “drunk tweeting.”

Look, fake news is all over the place, especially in the gossip arena. That’s why it’s gossip. And hell, I’ve fallen for it myself once or twice…and in turn, had articles that were (I thought) pretty obviously parodies mistaken as fact (one of which ended up on Oh No They Didn’t. People are still looking for the lyrics to Ashlee Simpson songs that don’t really exist thanks to me). So no one is impervious to it. But with news able to spread so quickly, it’s very easy for something started as a joke or as a rumor to quickly become accepted as “fact.”

So what can you do to protect yourself?

  • Check the sources. If there’s no link from the quote to audio or video, or text from a credible source, be highly suspiscious.
  • Google the quote, but remember that just because you get a lot of hits doesn’t mean it’s real. Google will list individual hits on individual Tumblrs that have reblogged something as separate results. If every single result you are getting is from Tumblr, and none of them are the celeb/artist’s official one, odds are it’s fake.
  • If you manage to find it on a gossip site, question the reliability of the source and looik to see where THEY got the information.
  • Read the whole article/blog, including the tags. If it’s meant to be a parody or a joke, odds are that’ll be clear somewhere. Check the “About” page of a site, often if they’re a parody page they’ll tell you that right there.
  • Basically, just QUESTION EVERYTHING. That doesn’t stop at celebrity news. That’s actual news. That’s things you see in your day to day life. That’s things you’ve been told over and over again since you were a child. Start questioning everything.

These don’t necessarily mean you’ll never fall for a fake news story again. Hell, there are so many people on Facebook who honestly believe stories posted on The Onion (which openly admits to being a parody site) that there’s a blog dedicated to them. But it does mean you’ll be better able to interpret the vast amount of information being thrown at you every day. And there’s something to be said for not taking everything at face value.

It’s very punk rock.