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article imageOp-Ed: Thousands fall for Charles Manson 'parole' hoax

By Scott Tuttle     Jun 7, 2014 in Odd News
Panic spread through the United States as thousands of social media enthusiasts shared the big news that infamous cult leader Charles Manson would be paroled. Little did they realize, it was all a hoax.
The story originated with an article written by a satirical news website called Empire News.
In an attempt at humor, the article claimed the 79-year-old serial killer would be freed due to a new California state policy to reduce prison overcrowding. According to the article, a panel of federal judges ordered California Governor Jerry Brown to devise a system reducing the state's prison overcrowding problem by February 2016.
"Prison overcrowding forced the prison board to re-evaluate prisoners that are elderly or those with serious illnesses," claimed California Board of Parole Hearings Commissioner John Peck in the article.
Whether or not it was the author's intention for people to take the article seriously, many in fact did. The story instantly went viral, and fear swept the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as evidenced by the comments that can be found with each reposting.
This is not the first, and it will doubtfully be the last time social media users fall for a hoax. Anyone who uses social media has likely seen countless cases of friends and family members sharing memes and stories that are clearly hoaxes while apparently believing them to be true.
As most websites dream of their content going viral, it can be a very attractive option to create an extreme hoax story to get the traffic flowing to their sites. Unfortunately, it has affected the news reporting process to the point where it may become hard to even know what to believe anymore.
Common sense should make most people question an article like this when they see it. When news seems extremely bizarre and unlikely, it is usually worth opening a second window in your browser and checking for another article confirming it. However, some hoax stories are not so obvious.
Always question things you read from sources that are not well established. The web is loaded with "satirical" news sites spreading bogus information. You should especially question what you see on social networking sites, even if they are posted by friends and loved ones.
Above all else, do not share information without taking a minute to make sure it's true. If people spent more time doing this, websites would lose their incentive to create false news.
Fiction can be fun, but it's always important to be able to distinguish fiction from fact.
The fact of the matter is that Charles Manson is probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Charles manson, Parole, Empire News, Hoax, governor jerry brown
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