Wisconsin may be the Florida of the Midwest, but this looks like fake news


#NotAllWisconsinites, OK? But it does have a reputation for housing some weird and unsavory characters. Sometimes, though, the stories are hard to believe. Like this one, about a Milwaukee funeral home owner making a sex doll out of body parts. I read it and found the details kept piling up and seemed increasingly bizarre and unlikely. But it’s on the ABC News site! I looked around, and the rest of the site mostly seems to be legitimate and kind of boring news stories. Except…ABC News is on ABCNews.com; this was ABCNews-US.com. When you look more closely at the sections of the site, they’re screwy: there’s a “Sport”* section with no stories in it. Something else that was off: it has an about page, on which it claims a rich history dating back to 1898, which can’t be true. I checked the domain registry; it’s registered in Melbourne, Australia? Then I checked some of the details, and there is no “Adams Sons Funeral Home in Milwaukee”.

It’s just weird. It’s got a fairly elaborate framework of seemingly authentic news stories built as a wrapper around at least this one ludicrously bogus tale. Why? It looks like someone has gone to the trouble of trying to create a superficially credible web news site in order to promote this goofy story…or more likely, some other less stupid but more damaging story. How many of these elaborate fake news sites are around?

Someone ought to tell the real ABC News that this site has stolen their logo and other identifying marks, at least.


*Another small detail: American news would call this section “Sports”, not “Sport”.

Comments

  1. Ichthyic says

    ^^I was gonna say.

    PZ facepalm moment?

    still, point stands, it DOES seem like a fake news wrapper.

  2. Ichthyic says

    also? PZ is right that they are using the American Broadcasting Corporation logo, not the Oz one.

    the Oz one looks like a squared-off mobius loop with a twist.

  3. Colin J says

    Another small detail: American news would call this section “Sports”, not “Sport”.

    And yet you call maths “math”. Weird.

    There is an Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but for their news reports you want abc.net.au/news/

  4. schreiberbike says

    Some people benefit from the belief that news sources are not trustworthy. They don’t have to persuade us that they are right, they just have to sow enough confusion that we no longer know what right is.

  5. Ichthyic says

    It’s got a fairly elaborate framework of seemingly authentic news stories built as a wrapper around at least this one ludicrously bogus tale. Why?

    why? probably because things like this are saleable as units now.

    if whoever made it can convince potential buyers of his domain name that it is attracting attention, they get to sell it for more cash.

    and it is a very lucrative business these days.

    the better question is:

    who is buying these domains, and why are they not being prosecuted?

  6. hemidactylus says

    Florida of the midwest? Don’t even try. Does Wisconsin have #floridaman or #becauseflorida?

  7. Dave Grain says

    Icthyic:
    “who is buying these domains, and why are they not being prosecuted?”

    Prosecuted for what, copyright infringement? Not something I suspect would be high on most agencies’ lists of high-priority crimes. You can bag whatever domain names are available and put up whatever bullshit you wish.

  8. Ichthyic says

    You can bag whatever domain names are available and put up whatever bullshit you wish.

    not in Australia, you can’t.

    They’ve shut down antivaxxer and homeopathy websites.

    really.

    and there a slew of other reasons sites get shut down all over the world.

    “The administrator of Australian internet addresses has shut down over 1000 websites, after overseas criminals were discovered establishing a network of bogus sites to scam consumers and steal credit card details.”

    http://www.afr.com/technology/web/security/more-than-1000-australian-websites-taken-down-following-chinaled-criminal-plot-20161007-grxa2o

    your ignorance does not speak well of you.

  9. Dave Grain says

    Icthyic:
    “your ignorance does not speak well of you.”

    Ha! Fuck you too.

    Your original comment talked about generating domain profitability by “attracting attention”, and now you want to move the goalposts to talking about credit card fraud and something your link describes as “foreign propaganda”? It’s not my fault you can’t write clearly, cupcake.

  10. John Morales says

    Ichthyic:

    … for better or worse, the idea that “you can just put up whatever you want” doesn’t float any more.

    There’s a difference between de jure and de facto.

    (And more pedantically, that a law exists doesn’t mean it’s enforced judiciously)

  11. Ichthyic says

    ^^ that would be about the markets people are generating by creating fake news sites and selling them.

    This would be about how that is illegal:

    http://kellywarnerlaw.com/fake-news-sites-illegal/

    but hey, keep pretending it’s all about you, cupcake.

    I have ZERO respect for you, just to be clear, especially since it is YOU moving the goalposts, asshat.

    run along and play. you don’t belong in any intelligent discussion of these issues.

  12. Ichthyic says

    (And more pedantically, that a law exists doesn’t mean it’s enforced judiciously)

    hence why I asked why no prosecution.

    in fact, EXACTLY why.

    wasting my time here again I see.

  13. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Dave Grain, better to play the ball than the person if you can’t do both.

    (You should be aware that — though the concept is deprecated — Ichthyic is not whuffie-poor here)

  14. hemidactylus says

    #9-Akira MacKenzie-

    Hey! I thought we were the Mississippi of the Midwest!

    As long as you don’t go comparing yourself to FloriDUH. We worked hard for our reputation and we don’t take kindly to cheeseheads stealing our thunder.

    Cheese has suddenly become a health food where oranges are acidic in the teeth and still tarnished by Anita Bryant. Should I explain that last one to the young ‘uns?

  15. says

    Someone on tumblr gave a plausible explanation for strange news coming from Florida: they said Florida is one of the few places where it isn’t illegal to publish the details of such events. So you get them.

  16. emergence says

    I know I keep harping on this, but sites like these show why using “fake news” as a general term for shoddy journalism – or even just journalism you disagree with – is such a bad idea. We’re living in an age where pranksters or political agitators can post outright fabrications on mocked up websites to make it look like a particular news source said something when they really didn’t. We need a distinct term to describe that and differentiate it from journalism that’s simply biased, or dishonest, or lacking in sufficient rigor. Failing to tell the difference is just going to cause more confusion.

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    Brian Pansky @ # 25: … Florida is one of the few places where it isn’t illegal to publish the details of such events. So you get them.

    You mean in other states someone would get prosecuted for publishing a news story about kids finding a human brain lying on the sidewalk in a residential area (just to pick an old “News of the Weird” item from my town)?

  18. John Morales says

    emergence, thing is, there are many examples of MSM picking up on stories featured on fake/satire sites, which is the major driver of their getting traction.
    It’s not a single aspect — it’s inter-related and systemic — and your prescription, I think, would just confuse the issue further as the new term is itself misapplied and subject to semantic shift.

    (Regarding “fake news”, I think its main driver is shoddy journalism, as featured on this blog recently in the entry about the flat-earthist rocketeer, where reports/opinions are clearly taken at face value without due investigation. Not that PZ is a journalist, but still)

  19. Dark Jaguar says

    This is the face of fake news. Look more closely and I bet you will find a “news article” describing some amazing new product like pills or something. Their purpose is to draw you in so they can pitch copy at you.

  20. methuseus says

    @Pierce R. Butler #27:

    You mean in other states someone would get prosecuted for publishing a news story about kids finding a human brain lying on the sidewalk in a residential area (just to pick an old “News of the Weird” item from my town)?

    No, it’s the fact that here in Florida (yes I’m in Florida) it is either mandated by law that arrest records and such are public record, therefore anything and everything is scanned and scraped for any “interesting” info they can find by all the Florida based (and probably other) news sources. Using the Internet with an IP coming from Florida you constantly get ads for your closest major metropolitan area saying “See [locality]’s mugshots here!” and other really weird things you don’t see elsewhere. It’s good in a way that all arrest records are open so you can see who is getting charged with what and who you don’t want to vote for, but it’s also bad if someone is arrested wrongfully. Even after exoneration they still have news stories about them.

  21. Reginald Selkirk says

    Not the first fake ABC news site:
    ABCnews.com.co

    ABCnews.com.co was a fake news site which mimics the URL, design and logo of the actual news site ABCnews.com[1] (which is owned by the Disney–ABC Television Group). Many stories from ABCnews.com.co have gone viral before being debunked.[2]
    The website’s disclaimer page gives the address of the Westboro Baptist Church as its primary location.[3]
    Paul Horner, the owner of the site, has claimed to make $10,000 per month from advertising traffic.[4][5]
    As of October 30, 2017, the website appears to have shut down.

    shut down, or moved?

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    metheseus @ # 31 – Greetings from Gainesville (the FL one)!

    Perhaps the most atrocious result of the Sunshine State’s open-records law happened over a decade ago here, when a dancer hired for a party accused a fraternity of gang rape and the State’s Attorney (equivalent to a District Attorney elsewhere) posted a frat member’s video of the event online.

  23. emergence says

    John Morales @28
    I’ll agree that shoddy journalism can lead to fake news being repeated by actual news sources. However, I think that those situations are really the only times that it’s appropriate to call a story on one of those news sources “fake news”. Otherwise, you end up being like Trump and call any story you dislike “fake news”, even when the story is simply biased or makes mistakes instead of being a deliberate hoax.

  24. emergence says

    About this necrophilia business; I saw an episode of Cinema Snob once where he made fun of a movie that was about something like this. The whole story sounds like the premise of an exploitation slasher movie. I wouldn’t be surprised if the prankster was inspired by that.

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