With fake news being such a big topic online, it's interesting to take a look at how a publication called Mississippi Herald created a fake news story that even fooled major publications like MSN. As of this writing, the article titled "Husband and wife discover they are biological twins after IVF clinic performs routine DNA test" is still live, with claims that a married couple learned they were twins through DNA testing at an IVF clinic spreading around social media. The MSN report has been shared 168 times on Facebook.
However, as reported by the International Business Times, the story is fake news. TheInquisitr debunked the report. A search for those sharing the fake news on Facebook proves that another publication reporting the fake DNA twin story has gotten 451 shares. The original fake news story from MississippiHerald.com, titled "Jackson husband & wife shocked after DNA test reveals they are biological twins," has gotten the largest amount of shares on Facebook. Published on Wednesday, the MississippiHerald.com fake news story has received 14,299 shares on Facebook.
Even the Evening Standard reported on the fake news with the title "Husband and wife discover they are twins after shock DNA test," which received 2,887 shares on Facebook. With the headline "Husband and wife discover they are twins" from Newidea.com.au getting 210 shares on Facebook, and the headline "Husband and wife went to get IVF treatment and discovered they were biological twins" getting 223 shares on Facebook, the fake news report has been spread around Facebook about 18,500 times thus far. Add in the Daily Mail's 14,000 shares, and that's at least 32,500 times the fake news has been spread.
How the Mississippi Herald created a fake news story and helped it spreadThere are lessons to be learned with the viral Mississippi Herald fake news report. First off, the article is pretty well-written in comparison to other fake news reports that are often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. However, it contains some of the hallmarks of fake news sites, such as not letting readers easily copy and paste the text of the article. Plus the Mississippi Herald fake news report is short on details, as it claimed "a doctor" with apparently no name counseled the married couple at a nameless fertility clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, as they discovered they were twins. The article explained that the doctor couldn't be named due to privacy reasons.
"A doctor at a fertility clinic in the Mississippi capital of Jackson has made a startling revelation concerning a couple who sought treatment at the center. The married pair, who cannot be named to due to patient confidentiality restrictions, had been struggling to conceive and came to the clinic to take part in the IVF program. 'During the in vitro fertilization process, we take a DNA sample from both the male and female to get a profile of their genetic backgrounds,' the doctor involved told Mississippi Herald, whose name must also be suppressed to protect the identities of the patients."The Mississippi Herald fake article went on to claim that the married couple had an odd reaction to learning they were twins.
"During their next appointment at the clinic, the doctor did his best to break the news gently. 'They burst out laughing when I asked them if they knew they were twins,' he said. 'The husband said that a lot of people remarked on the fact that they shared the same birthdays, and looked similar to each other, but he said it was just a funny coincidence and that the couple were definitely not related. The poor man had no idea.'"
The Mississippi Herald has a close name of a real publication, the Mississippi Sun HeraldThe Mississippi Herald shares a close name with the Mississippi Sun Herald, a publication out of Biloxi, Mississippi, which can be found listed in Google News. The Mississippi Herald is not listed in Google News. The Mississippi Sun Herald's domain name has been around since 1996, and was registered by McClatchy Management Services, Inc.
The Mississippi Herald has a domain name that was just registered on November 2, 2016, from a private registrant out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The Mississippi Herald is making money with content adsIt appears the Mississippi Herald doesn't necessarily need a Google News listing with fake news hits like the story about the married couple being twins, as long as the publication can rely on people to spread their fake news about Facebook and other social media platforms. With 32,500 shares on Facebook, the Mississippi Herald could've well garnered one million or more hits on their fake news report. With ads from Content.Ad on the side of their fake news report, that could've garnered them anywhere from $10 to hundreds to thousands of dollars over time, it's easy to see why fake news folks invest in a $10 domain name, some cheap website hosting, and put their fictional fake news writing skills to work.
[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]