The Craziest Fake News Stories That People Actually Believed

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GoCompare tool reveals how quickly fake news can spread and how social media plays a role in this

  • Take the GoCompare test to see if you can tell which news stories are fake and which are the truth
  • The biggest fake news story is that Donald Trump won the popular vote during the 2016 Presidential Election with over 4 million shares and engagements on social media
  • ISIS, Hurricane Harvey, Trump, Obama and Pope Francis all take a spot in the top 10 most shared fake news stories list

With nearly 2.4 billion users on social media worldwide, the ability to share information has become easier than ever. Fake news influenced debate and international headlines after its ability to influence governments and individuals, particularly within the 2016 U.S Presidential elections. But in the era of fake news, how do we tell which stories to believe and which are fabricated to spread lies? GoCompare reveal all with their intriguing tool.

What is Fake News?

Over the last two years, the term “fake news” has been described as a phenomenon that has dominated the recent debate.

Described as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting”, its popularity rose during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, with President Donald Trump using the term throughout his campaign to describe how the media were manipulating stories to create a political agenda against him.

The term became so popular, it has seen a rise of 365% in usage since 2016, with Collins adding the word to their dictionary and selecting it as the Word of the Year in 2017.

The Power of Fake News

Created by GoCompare, The Power of Fake News tool highlights ten of the most shared fake news stories across social platforms. The top ten were determined by the number of social media shares, engagements, Google results, and traffic for each article. Any engagements or shares that highlighted the story was fake has been removed from the data, meaning the numbers reflect genuine engagement with the story.

It also includes an interactive game which asks users to spot fake news stories from genuine news stories, that people may interpret as a hoax article because of its quirky headline. Do you think you could tell apart the true stories from the fake?

Top Three Fake News Stories:

  • Donald Trump won the popular vote – An argument comparing Trump and Clinton votes, claimed that Trump won the popular vote – but in truth this was based on a flawed argument. The Federal Electoral Commission later revealed that Clinton actually won nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump. The article gained over 4,018,453 shares and engagements; making it one of the biggest fake news stories shared online.
  • Pope Francis endorses Trump for president – An article claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump for presidency garnered over 901,351 shares in total. The article included a statement from the Vatican and claimed that a number of reputable news outlets had also broken the news. The article was found on WTOE 5 News, a site infamous for creating satirical content.
  • Black Lives Matter ‘Thugs’ blocked emergency crews from reaching hurricane victims – Fuelling a controversial conversation about Black Lives Matter and the authorities, Land of the Free published an article claiming members of the movement had created a blockade against emergency to reach Hurricane Harvey victims. The website is also known for its satirical content and used an image from protests in Atlanta to support their false claims.

Aiming to tackle the dissemination of false news stories, GoCompare has also included top tips to help people identify fake news stories. This is after Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that fake news stories were 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter compared to genuine stories.

Researchers also found that news stories that were true took up to six times longer to reach 1,500 people. With social shares for genuine stories remaining below 1,000 shares, and fake stories reaching up to 100,000.

To view the full tool of the Power of Fake News, view the tool here to discover more.