A pair of Russian students creates a Web site that makes it easier to post spooked news stories.
It takes a healthy dose of skepticism to suss out information from disinformation online. FakedNews.com makes that task even more challenging. The site lets users create their own bogus news stories, designed to look like they're part of a bona fide news site. Users can E-mail links to their customizable fake stories--"X-Files Fan Killed For Knowing Too Much" is one example. One of the page formats that FakedNews uses closely resembles CNN.com--logo and all--and the URLs for the story links also seem to originate from CNN.com.
News spoofs are nothing new, and they certainly didn't begin with the Web (think about the radio ruckus caused by Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds"). But FakedNews gives people an organized way to make their own news, and there's always the risk that it won't have an amusing outcome.
The site has already terminated service for several people who weren't using it appropriately, says Artem V. Orel, a co-founder and Moscow State University student. One person tried to spread a story through stock forums saying that an earthquake had hit Yahoo!'s headquarters. Says Orel, "If our gentle pop-up didn't appear, people would definitely believe the [fake] CNN story and he could easily influence the stock market."
"It's hard to find ways to authenticate things on the Internet," says Harvey Ardman, program director for the annual Pop!Tech conference. The Camden, Maine, event draws speakers such as Ray Kurzweil and Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe to discuss how technology affects society. Fake stories that seem to come from authentic news stories could mislead folks and cause trouble, he says. Ardman looks to more traditional media to verify some stories. "If I don't see it on ABC Nightly News, I tend to wonder about it."
Those curious enough to visit the site are forewarned: Some of the content are of a raunchy nature.
5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.