Identifying Fake News Series: ‘Contact Us’ Pages
Sometimes identifying fake news is easy, as creators are often lazy.
Fake news can vary widely in quality and believably from source to source, but quite often identifying it is as easy as taking a moment to learn who is behind a that particular website or social media account. Frequently the creators of fake news put quantity ahead of quality, and they are counting on the fact that most readers won’t bother to take the time to do even cursory checks.
Here are a couple of examples:
In January of 2017, a fake news story circulated claiming that United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was resigning. It was a well-crafted hoax, complete with the usual false evidence, such as misattributed quotes. The claim was quickly debunked by the reputable factcheck.org.
In this case, like many others, the creator of the hoax website failed to take the time to even update the “Contact Us” page of their WordPress theme, leaving it with the default information of:
A Great Company Name
123 Main St,
Warwick, RI 02889
While this is an obvious example, even when more effort is put in it’s still quite easy to distinguish a real source from a fake one. In fact, in looking at the contact page one of the largest reported fake news and disinformaion websites, Your News Wire, we can see that while names are listed, proper care hasn’t been taken to even complete the page (or this information has been deliberately left out.)
Beyond that, a quick search of the editor’s name reveals a wealth of stories from a wide-ranging number of long-standing publications describing the site as disreputable. The sources include the UK Standard, The Drum, and it is listed on Wikipedia as a major purveyor of fake news during the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.
The next time you see a story from a source with which you are not familiar, we in addition to searching fact-checking sites, we recommend taking a moment to visit the source’s “Contact” page, as you can often identify hoax or disinformation sites for yourself there.