Beware of FAKE news on social media

One of my favorite memes on the internet includes a picture of Abraham Lincoln alongside this quote attributed to him:

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it." - Abraham Lincoln

What's funny is that the internet wasn't invented until more than a hundred years after Lincoln's death, so there's no possible way the 16th president could have said the above. In other words, even a quote about the perils of reading too much into something you read on the internet can itself be misattributed and thus prove sketchy. 

I've lost count of the times I've come across news of a dubious nature on Facebook. For example, every so often a Facebook friend posts an article about a celebrity death that later turns out to be a hoax. Just the other day, a media company I'm following on Facebook posted an article alleging President Obama said he'd refuse to allow Donald Trump become the next president and that he'd stay put for a 3rd term. 

Obviously, these fictitious articles constitute what many would call "click bait." They seem almost too good to be true, and yet the shock value alone still prompts people to click on them. 

It's always best to get our information from a more credible source like CNN or the Wall Street Journal. What you see on sites like Facebook is essentially a microcosm of the internet as a whole, which is nothing short of a cesspool of misinformation. 

Unfortunately, far too many people try to use the internet to exploit unsuspecting web surfers, either to draw traffic to their site or just to get a kick out of fooling people. 

All we can do is remain very vigilant when combing through the content that populates on our social media accounts. If your gut tells you something isn't veritable or authentic, chances are it's right on the money. 

Indeed, don't be quick to accept anything and everything you read on the internet as factually accurate. 

Have you ever believed a story online -- whether on social media or elsewhere -- that turned out to be a total sham?

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