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The story takes place in Walkerville, MD. Reported by the Denver guardian on 05 November 2016 depicts a fiery inferno that covers the remains of an apparent murder-suicide. Made public on Facebook and shared as much as one hundred times per second. The Guardian goes on to report that 45 yr old FBI agent Michael Brown shot and killed his 33 yr old wife Susan Brown before setting the house on fire and taking his own life. They add Brown was a 12 year veteran of the D.C Metropolitan Police Department before spending the last 6 years in the FBI. However, looking further into the facts and evidence it’s obvious this is just another fake news attempt to persuade the voters this election.
It’s not uncommon for candidates or presidential followers looking to sway other voters to try to fabricate or falsify information to slander the opponent. Negative presidential campaigning has been going on since John Adams vs Thomas Jefferson in the 1800s (mentalfloss, 2012). While there is no way to connect some of the false negative claims to the opposing candidates the intention is always clear. So before believing everything you see on the internet, do some fact-checking, especially around election time when its claims about candidates because when you first see the picture you’re immediately drawn into the fire. The seriousness of the situation and the fact you see a real fireman unedited fighting a blaze makes you believe, but with some simple google searches you find the truth; A real news story by the (DenverPost,2016) was able to uncover this information.
- The image was taken from (Flickr,2020) user Adam Bells(real image below)
- (image is of his neighbor's house on fire)
- Website for the guardian, hosted by GoDaddy, registered in 2016
- Other links for the website were not operating properly
- Address for the newsroom is a vacant lot
- Walkerville, MD does not exists
Snopes quotes “ the Denver Guardian is nothing more than a hastily thrown together website with a bunch of non-working links and a fake street address, all created for the sole purpose of disseminating fabricated clickbait news stories”. The Denver Post is quoted saying “This false story is one of thousands of fake news stories being circulated around Facebook by fly-by-night “hyperpartisan” sites this election cycle”. Similar stories like Hillary accidentally giving Iran 400 million dollars (Palma and Palma) and the Clinton foundation purchasing $137million of illegal arms(Mikkelson and Mikkelson) also turned out to be 100% false. The post reported from an investigation done by (BuzzFeed, 2016) that the majority of these presidential election websites focused on the Trump and Clinton election is a means of income for Macedonian teens.
As we continue to develop new technology and means of spreading information it’s going to become increasingly difficult to decipher what’s true or false. Fact-Checking websites will become a huge tool in the future in unraveling some of these claims. Realize the power of a simple social media post, do your research, and always question yourself and others. Until you have directly identified the source, you can never be 100% sure of the information being provided or the claims being made.
“Adams vs. Jefferson: The Birth of Negative Campaigning in the U.S.” Mental Floss, 9 Sept. 2012, www.mentalfloss.com/article/12487/adams-vs-jefferson-birth-negative-campaigning-us.
Bells, Adam. “House Fire.” Flickr, Yahoo!, 2 Oct. 2010, www.flickr.com/photos/adambelles/5044281763.
Brennan, Christopher. “Zuckerberg Denies That Fake Facebook News Influenced Presidential Election.” Nydailynews.com, New York Daily News, 8 Apr. 2018, www.nydailynews.com/news/national/zuckerberg-denies-fake-facebook-news-influenced-election-article-1.2869604.
Lubbers, Eric. “There Is No Such Thing as the Denver Guardian, despite That Facebook Post You Saw.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 8 Nov. 2016, www.denverpost.com/2016/11/05/there-is-no-such-thing-as-the-denver-guardian/.
Silverman, Craig. “How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News.” BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed News, 30 Jan. 2019, www.buzzfeednews.com/article/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo.