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Spot Fake News in Social Media

We've all heard assertions made about "fake news" in the media, some warranted, some not. I'm not going into a political rant, or a beat up the media session here, so don't click away. I'm going to share some examples of what I'm talking about: those half-true, dire warning type of posts that always spread like itchy, irritated poison ivy rashes from person to person on social media.

UNTRUE: "Consuming tainted lettuce caused more deaths in 2018 than homicides perpetrated by undocumented immigrants."

UNTRUE: "Service station customers are getting stuck by HIV-loaded syringes affixed to gas pump handles."

UNTRUE: "VERY URGENT! Tonight at 3:00am to 3:30am make sure to turn off your phone, cellular, tablet etc & put far away from your body! ....our Planet will be very high radiation! Cosmic rays will pass close to Earth, So please turn off your cell phone! Do not leave your device close to your body, it can cause you terrible damage! Check Google & NASA BBC News! Send this message to all the people who matter to you! Thank you."

And this one, which I am sure you've all seen:

UNTRUE: "Deadline tomorrow !!! Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from tomorrow. Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. It costs nothing for a simple copy and paste, better safe than sorry. Channel 13 News talked about the change in Facebook’s privacy policy. I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future. With this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents."

They were designed to hit a lot of hot buttons and fire up groups (Unions, farmers, health officials, legislators, families, immigrants, big oil companies - the list goes on.).Social media can be a hotbed of rumor and partial truths just to get people riled up. So, why are we posting about this? What can we do to guard ourselves professionally and personally against the spread of these fake news posts on social media? We are posting this because rumors good or bad can effect your business and if you happen to own a chain of gas stations or a farm that grows lettuce you can potentially be effected by the spread of fake news posts from good intentioned social media users. Fake news can go viral and become truth in the minds of the public.

1. Take a breath. The next time you receive a post, see a tweet, or even get an email that instantly makes you feel very emotional (angry, indignant, hyper-concerned, moved to tears, over protective etc.) and feel like you must do something like immediately repost - TAKE A BREATH. These posts are designed to hit you on many levels to get a knee jerk response. DON'T DO IT.

2. Check the story out on an accredited fact checking site. is one of the oldest and best for general subjects, scams and hoaxes. is a Pulitzer prize winning political fact checker.

3. "Fake News": Reply/comment with a link from your fact checking resource to stop the spread of false rumors.

4. If you discover "real news" that can effect your business call in your public relations/marketing team and calmly make a plan to take you forward in a positive way.


Salty Red Dog Marketing, LLC is a marketing agency in Westport, CT & NYC. We service businesses with marketing strategies, social media and consultations.


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