Snopes, Can’t Beat Myths
The popularity of Snopes — it attracts seven million to eight million unique visitors in an average month — puts the couple in a unique position to evaluate digital society’s attitudes toward accuracy.
After 14 years, they seem to have concluded that people are rather cavalier about the facts.
In a given week, Snopes tries to set the record straight on everything from political smears to old wives’ tales. No, Kenya did not erect a sign welcoming people to the “birthplace of Barack Obama.” No, Wal-Mart did not authorize illegal immigration raids at its stores. No, the Olive Garden restaurant chain did not hand out $500 gift cards to online fans.
The Mikkelsons talk matter-of-factly about why these stories spread the way they do.
“Rumors are a great source of comfort for people,” Mrs. Mikkelson said.
And that’s the rub, isn’t it? People don’t much want to know the truth. They just want a story that amuses them, confirms their biases, or makes the world a more wondrous place.
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