10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Story

The Story Is a Little Too Funny or Interesting
Some stories are just too good to be true. And these are often the ones that get shared. BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

The goal of posting fake news stories is to attract readers to your site. One way to do this is to run really compelling stories. We're not talking serious, compelling stories, such as reports on ISIS' latest forays or the current status of war refugees around the globe. We're talking funny-compelling. Bizarre-compelling. The more eyebrow-raising a story is, the more people seem to want to read and share it, and other news outlets to reprint it. Those are the kinds of stories fake sites thrive upon. So your antenna should go up if you read such a piece.

One example is the tale of a 13-year-old who swiped his dad's credit card, then purchased a boatload of video games and electronics — plus two $1,000-per-hour hookers. His reason for securing the latter? He wanted some people to play the video game "Halo" with him and his buddies. The police caught up with the 13-year-old when the prostitutes were still with him, the story said. The women told police they thought something was odd when the boys spurned their normal, um, business arrangement, saying they were midgets from a traveling circus merely seeking companionship.

Plausible? Barely. Yet this story was widely disseminated before it was revealed to be a ruse on the part of an Internet marketer trying to get some quick hits to his site. He left the story up, but added a disclaimer that it was merely satire [source: Media Watch].