Humor site Cracked.com compiled a list of “6 ways to get anyone to believe a clearly fake news story” in early August.
The list came just days after media outlets including the BBC, the Los Angeles Times, and others issued apologies, updates and retractions for reporting stories on a fake study stating Internet Explorer users have lower IQs than other browser users.
Cracked.com’s list highlights some of the key elements to widely-spread hoax stories including stories on “amazing scientific breakthroughs!,” stories on issues that influence or comment on society, and “heart-wrenching personal stories.”
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For example, Cracked.com noted that the Washington Post, the Pulitzer Prize committee and the public all bought Janet Cooke’s phony story on “Jimmy the 8-year-old heroin addict” because the story sounded good and “it would have been really hard to question her without looking like the bad guy.”
Another highlight from the list included the belief that “anything can happen in a foreign country.” After all, the NYTimes was criticized in March for an anecdote claiming you can’t qutoe Shakespaere in China on the phone because the censors will cut your call. The Times later added an editors’ note to the story after bloggers called out the Times for its questionable anecdote.
Check out the full list here.