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The internet has become a frustrating place

Have you noticed the volume of fake news on the internet? Think about the amount of outrage you see originating from those lies.

Last of Us 2 is a controversial video game because the plot took a direction some fans hated. But how many of you boycotted the title a year before it came out because the internet told you that Ellie would spend the game fighting a right-wing Christian cult?

How many battles did you fight in gaming forums over supposed twists and turns that never actually appeared in Last of Us 2? Fake news is a problem in every corner of entertainment. It persists because people believe everything they read. Even worse, they overreact. It feels like some sort of outrage virus is on the loose, waiting to trigger the vilest, loudest responses.

Surprisingly, they can’t see the hand pulling their strings. Misinformation thrives because it is a lucrative business. Remember when people claimed that Mahershala Ali was leaving Marvel’s Blade? That claim has persevered for all these months because various social media accounts, blogs, and websites keep reporting Mahershala’s departure as a fact.

But to what end? Because they want clicks. Clickbait is still the most effective means of boosting traffic, at least in the short term. A higher volume of traffic typically translates into more money, regardless of whether you’re looking for ad revenue or hoping to convert visitors into customers for products or services sold on your platform.

Social media sites are equally culpable because they typically promote content with significant engagement (clicks, likes, views, shares, etc) and posts with outlandish claims attract the highest engagement. Then again, it would not matter if people were not so quick to share the stories they discover online.

Remember when the internet went crazy because Erin Moriarty had supposedly mutilated her beautiful face via plastic surgery?

The story came from a single picture. Moriarty had a ghoulishly thin face, sunken cheeks, and weirdly puffy lips. Guess what? Moriarty looks perfectly normal today. She achieved that shared look via makeup, not plastic surgery. But people lost their minds and attacked the actress for her supposed stupidity and vanity.

You cannot absolve yourself of responsibility by claiming that an online resource fooled you. You can take certain steps to protect yourself from misinformation. For instance, limit your reading to reliable sources; major publications with a reputation for publishing verifiable information.

Don’t trust every random person who claims to have their finger on the pulse of Hollywood. If you prefer to collect your news from smaller, lesser-known sites, check their sources. The best publications will tell you where their information came from.

Many entertainment platforms do not report news. They merely tell you what other news sources are reporting and they provide links to those platforms. Follow those links. Make sure you know where an outlandish claim came from before you believe and share it.

Keep in mind that major entertainment publications are trustworthy because they include the name and photo of the person reporting their news. Entertainment sites with anonymous authors should make you uneasy.

If you don’t know the author, you cannot hold them accountable for spreading fake news. If you know the author’s identity, look them up. Are they known for manufacturing salacious lies to attract attention?

Do they have a stake in the story? For instance, are they reporting negatively about an actor who sued them? Are they employed by an opposing studio? Does their platform have sponsored content designed to bait readers?

If that sounds like too much work for you, stop sharing information you find online. If you can’t put in the effort to verify news before telling other people, at the very least, you can stop participating in misinformation campaigns.

katmic200@gmail.com

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