Web-design expert offers tips to spot false news stories

Published: Aug. 7, 2019 at 7:12 PM CDT
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Tuesday causes confusion and concern in Wichita.

The article, shared by many on social media Tuesday night, talked about Wichita police thwarting a mass shooting attempt at Towne West mall.

Glancing at the article, there is not clear indicator that it's fake, but Eyewitness News spoke with a web-design expert who says a closer look quickly reveals issues in the story. Chris Gill owns Dunn Allen Design, a company specializing in creating legitimate websites.

With Tuesday's article published by "City News," Gill says he immediately noticed the URL didn't match. Beyond looking at the headline, he says there are likely more indicators of a fake story.

Among the discoveries is that the website published identical stories for different stories.

"San Antonio, Wichita, Chicago, all for the exact same story," Gill says. "That leads me to believe there are probably bots just creating these stories. They're just taking a popular, clickbait headline, dropping your geolocation in there so it hits that hot-button topic. Now they've fabricated a news story that could be shared."

Gill says it's possible the people responsible for the fake article are selling advertising on their site or gathering some sort of tracking data. Their goal, he says, is just to get more people to click on stories like the one shared in Wichita Tuesday night.

If you see an article that looks suspicious, don't share it. One way to tell if it's legitimate is to type the headline in a Google search and see if other news outlets are reporting the story.

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