Several months ago, I was enjoying dinner with a group of people. One of the guests ordered a vodka and Red Bull. A woman gasped as he began to sip his concoction. He stared at her curiously and asked if she had ever tasted the beverage. She explained she would never drink the stuff because of something she read on the internet.
"Red Bull is made with bull semen."
The group of us laughed and the woman became flushed. She insisted it was probably true because she saw it online. Her friend had sent her a link to the story. I politely introduced her to a website every person needs to know about called Snopes.com.
Snopes is the definitive internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. If you ever come across a story that seems too wild to be true, check Snopes. Check the story, especially before you share it.
I should add that Snopes is completely independent and self-supporting; they receive no funding in any form from any person, group, agency, or organization.
Is Obama a liar? Is Trump a fake?
Want to know how that politician is performing? Would you like to see if that political rumor is true or not? Check Politifact.com before spreading the story.
PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. When you hear something on talk radio, TV, online, or at the watercooler, it's best to check it's accuracy here first.
Understand online and traditional media outlets are businesses. Sensationalist headlines always draw our attention. The more clicks, eyeballs, and eardrums they receive, the more money they earn from advertisers.
Most sites and media outlets have biases and may even lean to one political side over the another. It's no secret that Fox leans Republican and MSNBC leans Democrat. It's up to you to recognize this before you amplify the "news" with your friends on Facebook.
When you share fake news you are part of the problem.
Don't be a red-faced, bull semen-sipping believer. Be responsible by checking the facts and source first. Spreading fake news and misinformation can not only make you look foolish, it can be downright dangerous. Less informed, more gullible people can act on rumors in horrible ways.
I've included the latest stories and rumors below from Politifact and Snopes. Click through to learn more and to be informed.