Remember when we only had to deal with fake news once a year?
That’s how it felt, at least, before false information purporting to be real took over the internet, luring unsuspecting users in with legit-looking websites and information meant to appeal to a certain kind of person who would be likely to share the information. But it wasn’t always like this— despite being tainted by the current political climate, fake news is still a source of joy for many on April 1st.
Many journalism outlets and public relations companies have made it a tradition to observe April Fool’s Day and put out at least one fake story to fool their audiences. (The Washington Post put out this delightfully exhaustive list of hoaxes perpetrated this year in the world of media). I possibly liked NPR’s approach the best, though, which involved not only posting a funny fake story, as they do every year (a chef who cooks with dirt, anyone?) but also reposting a neat little social experiment that they first started in 2014.
The NPR Facebook page put out a link to an article entitled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” If you actually click on the link, it brings you here:
The point was to figure out whether or not people were actually reading their articles before commenting. Despite the instructions not to comment, many people did anyway; some to try to add their own witty comment, or to try to spoil the joke for others, but some because they genuinely didn’t read the article before commenting.
Here are a couple of gems from the comment sections of the original post in 2014. As you can see, many users stuck around to offer snarky but often hilarious responses to the comments of people who offered their opinions— sometimes with considerable vitriol— without even having clicked on the article.
We all know those people that can’t resist commenting on everything they see online (if you’re reading this, you know who you are). Perhaps this kind of mischievous experiment can encourage us all to be a bit more careful about putting our opinions out there before we have all the facts.