The network of sites supporting fake celeb obituaries

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Interesting investigation of a network of advertising-driven misinformation sites:

This seems to be the newest trick in the book of a group of fake news websites: look for news about a well-known celebrity being taken to hospital, wait a few days and then announce that person has sadly passed away. Skeptics who do Google around a bit for confirmation before sharing the article will find a slew of news reports from well respected news outlets all saying the person was in hospital (likely with severe health problems) so the news of the death seems plausible enough to pass on without further scrutiny. Usually that’s all it takes to make the death hoax go viral, allowing the site operators to cash in on the advertising revenue windfall.

It’s so cheap and easy to build a network of fake sites, publishing variations on the same story, that increasing numbers of fake sites are using the technique to boost their apparent credibility.

Our level of scepticism and critical thinking needs to grow…

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.