Web of Lies: Fake Ebola News Stories on the Internet Unnecessarily Scaring Americans
While cases of Ebola in the United States can be counted on one hand, there's a palpable fear of the deadly virus around the country. Even though the virus isn't easily transmitted, it is certainly a grim bug that is definitely worth being at least a little worried about. Groups of tasteless jokesters are taking advantage of this fear and using it to stir things up in cities around the country.
One of the most recent cases of these pranksters striking happened in Fargo, ND. A story of a man traveling from Mexico testing positive for Ebola in Fargo came from the website feednewz.com and spread on Facebook and other social media. Clicking into the story on Facebook would show a page from feednewz.com, letting you know you've been pranked. Facebook also offers a warning message that this site may be potentially unsafe, giving you the option to report it as spam.
Similar instances of prank Ebola stories have popped up in places like Sioux Falls, SD, and it's likely we'll see a handful of additional cases of this happening before it comes to an end.
With hot topical or sensational news headlines of any nature on social media, it's very important to know and trust the source of the information. If you see an eye-grabbing headline, consider the source before you share it. If you see a flashy headline that grabs your attention, use your judgement to consider the source or the likelihood the headline is true. We've seen this in recent years with celebrity death hoaxes from no-name websites, and now it is spreading into news topics like Ebola.
If you don't recognize the website, do a little research on the site before clicking the link, as it might be harmful to your computer or might just be bad information. For example, a quick web search for feednewz.com yields information that shows the website is designed to "create a prank and share it". The image below was created using this very website. Note the website I pointed out with the red arrow in the image below. If you don't recognize that site as a reputable source of information, it's worth doing a little more research before assuming it is valid.