It Predicts a Future Disaster
A fair number of fake news stories hook readers in because they predict a future disaster. Yes, some of them are pretty incredible and seem obviously fake — the date of the world's ending, for example, or the start of World War III. But some seem rather believable.
One such story that has made the rounds numerous times concerns Europe becoming an Islamic continent due to Muslims' high birthrates. Various versions of the story have been printed, with an anonymous YouTube video titled "Muslim Demographics" fanning the flames. In the video, which was uploaded in March 2009 and had 15.5 million hits by Aug. 2015, all sorts of undocumented claims are made, such as the fact that France will become an Islamic republic by 2048 and Germany a majority-Muslim state by 2050. (For the record, Europe is expected to become 10 percent Muslim by 2050 [source: Yuhas]). Other similar stories predict the world's water running out (for crop growth) and America's economy crashing [sources: Wong].
Consider any disaster story carefully, especially if it's paired with a specific date. Such a story may be true, for example, stories about the AIDS epidemic and the Ebola crisis. But more often than not, it's hyperbole or just plain false.