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Fake news — including for purposes of satire — is not a new phenomenon. However, in the age of social media, it seems more pervasive and potentially more dangerous. These days, much fake news masquerades as real news with the intent of fooling us — and even profiting from diverting our attention. The fake news sites and stories jamming up social feeds are designed to travel as far as possible through outraged online sharing, garnering all the clicks they can with their ludicrous (but nearly believable) headlines, precisely because they want our eyeballs: the site owners profit from the adverts served on their pages. Other kinds of fake news are less predatory; their sole purpose appears to be trolling. So how do you spot the fake stories from the merely outrageous-but-true ones? The short answer is that we must all be a lot more sceptical and a lot less impulsive about what we share online. This means actually reading articles before we share them and adopting a default cynicism to ...

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