11 Flint + Michigan Fake News Stories We Debunked in 2016
Now that fake news is being recognized as an epidemic, we've decided to look back at all the fake news stories we debunked in 2016... Before it was cool.
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Thanks to the 2016 election (*shivers, audibly gags), fake news is now being recognized as the epidemic it has become in the age of social media replacing news outlets.
As a self-respecting editor of a website, I have been battling against this sort of thing for years. There's nothing worse than working really hard on a quality piece of factual content, and seeing it largely ignored for poorly-written and completely fabricated trash. When I see people in my feed blindly sharing these made-up stories, I jump on the opportunity to get the real story, which is generally not hard. I even wrote an article on how to easily spot fake news back in 2014. Clearly, not enough people read it.
2016 has provided us with so many opportunities to debunk fake news, that we had to be more selective than in years past. We tried to stick to stories that could have serious ramifications if believed, and those that pertained directly to the Flint-area or Michigan at large.
I could see how one could think that the time he spent here filming 'Semi-Pro' might convince Woody to move here full-time, but he lives in Hawaii, and gets smoked out with buddy Owen Wilson on the reg. Woody moving to Flint is not gonna happen.
Debunking this story has become somewhat of an annual tradition, but it's still no more true than it was the first couple times we wrote about it.
Eminem is from Detroit, so this one doesn't sound that far-fetched, but this is another copy-and-paste joint from WTOE 5, who are responsible for an alarming number of these "(celebrity) says (nice thing) about people of (city)" articles.
I actually think this one was an honest mistake, but this lady has no idea what she's doing. That tester does not test for lead, it basically checks for minerals in the water or potential electric conductivity... or something like that. Read the full story for a thorough scientific explanation from our resident chemistry whiz.
Listen, Michigan only has one supermodel, and she's already dating Justin Verlander. DiCaprio is not moving anywhere near Michigan, and this is just another classic WTOE 5 celebrity mad-libs article.
Back in 2008, there were headlines about a Flint Police initiative to give citations for excessive sagging, but that went away pretty quickly. This sign, however, is poorly Photoshopped and not real whatsoever. According to our contacts, Flint police do not enforce a police like this.
This story was understandably confusing. Any time old-timey legal jargon is involved, it becomes very hard to understand the meaning behind it. Thankfully, this one turned out to be a false alarm too. The bill actually was about animal abuse, so butt stuff and oral is still on the table for consenting adult humans.
The Dort Mall is dope. It's one of Flint's best hidden treasures. While there's plenty to see there, the mall doesn't have a ton of commerce going on these days. That's why this story about an F.Y.E, Bass Pro Shops, JCPenney, and Foot Locker going into the mall as part of a massive expansion immediately smelled fishy to us. We were right -- it's complete bulls---.
The water crisis has been crazy from the jump, but for a while, people were suggesting all kinds of crazy actions like refusing to pay all your bills and other things that were seriously dangerous. We felt it was incredibly important to shoot down some of these before people ruined their lives based on garbage information.
We don't really need to explain this one, do we?
This one was so stupid I couldn't believe people were sharing it, but it just goes to show you that some people will believe any title they read on Facebook.
After seeing everyone share Wikileaks emails between Clinton staffers and taking all of them as the truth without questioning their authenticity whatsoever, I decided to show people just how easy it is to make fake emails. Unfortunately, not everybody got that this was a satire piece and called me out for invalid email addresses instead of laughing at the obviously fake emails, like the one where Hillary orders Harambe's assassination. Interestingly enough, the FBI reopened the investigation into Hillary's emails the day after we published this. Hopefully that was just a coincidence.