I came across a genuine ‘fake news’ site the other day, which isn’t all that surprising or uncommon. However, it had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with prying dollars out of my dusty wallet.
It came across my Facebook feed. The hook (basically the teaser that showed up in my feed) was a story about Canadian rapper Drake who was fighting back against the Parq Casino in Vancouver.
For lack of a better term, ‘real news’ outlets reported on the foofaraw a couple of months ago. Drake accused the casino of racial profiling because it gave him the third degree. Some has since suggested that Drake simply ran afoul of the $10,000 cash limit in B.C. casinos. When you’re a successful rapper, $10,000 in cash is chump change. However, the $10,000 cash limit is where B.C. casinos raise their eyebrows to possible money laundering and then look the other way.
When I clicked on the link that came through my feed I was taken to a website that looked very much like the Vancouver Sun website. All the layout, graphics, and fonts were identical. The logo, however, wasn’t the Vancouver Sun and, checking the web address, it wasn’t the Vancouver Sun. But it sure looked like it.
The story, which was bylined, gave a short recap of Drake’s woes at the casino and then went into a long dissertation about how he was investing in a competing casino and was giving away credits to his fans who signed up, online, to his new casino. There were even a few comments at the bottom of the story about how great the credits were. One single father could now provide for his kids thanks to Drake, his generosity, and the casino he was supporting, etc.
The website had ‘links’ to other legitimate news stories. The only problem was, clicking on any of those links, and I do mean any of them because I checked them, took you to the online casino site that Drake was supposedly bankrolling … all to get back at the casino that drew his ire.
I don’t know if Drake is actually investing in this online site or not, but I doubt it. At any rate, at least as far as I’m concerned, it meets the classic definition of a ‘fake news’ site. It draws you in under false pretences; gives information that is loosely based on real events but not, in itself, real; and tries to get something from you, in this case signing up for their online gaming site.
Walks like a duck, talks like a duck …Well, it’s not a duck.
I reported the site to Facebook as a ‘fake news’ site.
Facebook put on their best blinders on and thoroughly investigated the site, getting back to me about a day later with the news that posting a made up ‘news’ story about a real life person, with links to a ‘news’ site that is only a redirect to another site that wants me join up and start gambling away my life’s savings, doesn’t contravene any of their policies.
That, according to Facebook, doesn’t constitute ‘fake news.’
Maybe all the assurances that Facebook was cracking down on fake news was the real fake news.