Give a Warm ATH welcome (which does not mean start talking advarks and dragons, guys!) to comedic genius Frank Fleming, who is here to teach us how to write fake news. And you know he knows how to, since he keeps getting fact checked* by Snopes, Facebook, and other organizations which have had their sense of humor ablated at formation (*But not on Occasional Cortex getting her head stuck in a bucket. That’s self-obviously true. She wsa probably looking for her brain.)- SAH
How to Generate Fake News by Frank J. Fleming
Hi, it’s me, Frank J. Fleming from The Babylon Bee (and writer of novels such as Superego: Fathom, now available on Audible. Since I write for a Christian, conservative satire site and Christians and conservatives don’t know how to be funny, the main point of our satire is to trick people into thinking it’s real, i.e., to make fake news.
Fake news is great! It helps you get traffic for your website or tilt an election at the behest of the Russians who are funding you. But you’re probably wondering: How can I make fake news? Being an expert, I am here to share some tips that will trick everyone.
TIPS FOR MAKING FAKE NEWS
Include real details. One of the important features of fake news is that it sounds real. That means you include details that are true. For instance, let’s say you start an article this way:
President Trump today set fire to a…
People will read that and say to themselves, “The president is Trump! This could be a real story!”
Or if you start a story with:
Today in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, escaped llamas...
People will google that and say, “Hey, Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States. The rest of this story could be true as well!”
But if you get a detail wrong that people know, that could ruin the whole ruse. For example, if you wrote:
Boron, which has a melting point of 2,113 degrees Kelvin…
Someone could say, “Hey, Boron has a melting point of 2,349 degrees Kelvin! What is this guy trying to pull? Maybe the rest of this article about Russians putting a mind-control device in Kamala Harris is wrong as well.”
Write to people’s biases. A key to fake news is to have it be something people would like to be true based on what they already think about certain political figures. Let’s say you’re writing for people who think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is stupid. Then you could write some fake news like:
Today, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got her head stuck inside a bucket and ran into a wall.
And the people who don’t like Ocasio-Cortez will say to themselves, “That does sound like something she would do, as she is very brain-stupid. This news checks out, and I will not doubt it.”
On the other hand, people who like Ocasio-Cortez will say, “This can’t be true! She is the world’s smartest socialist. Something seems awry with this news. And if it is true, I’m certain Ocasio-Cortez had a very smart reason for putting her head inside a bucket so it would get stuck. I’m going to research this and look for other verification.”
This partisan divide is why it’s hard to trick all the people all the time with fake news. I dream of a day when this nation is less divided and I can constantly fool everyone.
Be sensational but not too sensational. One of the main reasons for fake news is to generate lots of buzz and traffic, and thus it has to be something people will want to share and write angry tweets about. For instance, I could write this:
Today, President Trump bought a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.
And that’s total fake news. I just made that up. I don’t even know if that’s his favorite flavor of Doritos. But no one is going to share that fake news, because who cares.
But you can go too far in the other direction. Let’s say I wrote fake news like this:
Today, President Trump nuked France.
Now, that’s some sensational news people will want to share. But they’ll also think to themselves, “Hey, that’s pretty big news. Shouldn’t everyone be talking about this and I didn’t just find out about it on some news site I’ve never heard of before?”
So you have to tone it down some. Like:
Today, President Trump nuked Micronesia.
No one even knows where that is. Could be true!
Don’t have the letters “CNN” above your news. That is now a dead giveaway for being fake news. You need to come up with some other made-up news organization name, like “Totally Real News.”
Well, those are my tips for making fake news to generate lots of traffic. So go out there and tilt an election or cause chaos. And check out my science fiction novel Superego: Fathom, now on Audible. It’s totally true, and none of it is made up.