There are a number of prank news websites and false news websites online. Recently, the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office observed an increase in these types of false reports on local social media timelines and in emails. The fake stories are often designed to cause fear, hate, and even panic.
Don’t fall victim. You can stop the spread of misinformation by examining the elements of an article and using some common sense. Ask basic questions to determine whether the information you are reading is about an event that is actually occurring or is an ill-conceived prank or scheme designed to instill fear.
Is the article or video from a genuine news agency? Who wrote the news story?
Some of the articles that spread through social media are presented as if they are from an actual news outlet. Find outside links to the purported news outlet and about the author that are not listed in the article to help verify the agency.
Is there a date on the article or video?
Many articles are posted and shared without a date so that they will be shared continually as if it was a new story. Most professional news outlets will not only post dates on their articles, but will include when the information was updated. In other cases, fake stories will link to older more truthful articles in an attempt to back their fictional claims. You should also check article dates to ensure that you don’t unintentionally share an old article mistaking it for the latest news.
How well written is the story?
While even the most professional news agencies commit the occasional misspelling or typo, many fake stories contain an abundance of grammatical errors. You can also check the sources the article cites to determine if they truly offer supporting evidence.
Be aware that the purpose of a headline is to get you interested in reading the article.
Also, be mindful that there are an abundance of satirical news websites that create stories with the intent of criticizing or mocking a subject.
If you have questions about a suspicious news story involving St. Mary Parish contact the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office at 337-828-1960 and 985-384-1622 or the Public Information Office at 985-354-0714 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Office