What was fake on the Internet this week: Why this is the final column

What was fake on the Internet this week: Why this is the final column
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There is nothing — NOTHING — too crazy for the Internet hoax beat. Pregnancy by flu shot? Six days of total darkness? In the past 82 weeks, I’m prettyyyy sure I’ve seen just about everything.

We launched “What was Fake” in May 2014 in response to what seemed, at the time, like an epidemic of urban legends and Internet pranks: light-hearted, silly things, for the most part, like new flavors of Oreos and babies with absurd names.

Since then, those sorts of rumors and pranks haven’t slowed down, exactly, but the pace and tenor of fake news has changed. Where debunking an Internet fake once involved some research, it’s now often as simple as clicking around for an “about” or “disclaimer” page. And where a willingness to believe hoaxes once seemed to come from a place of honest ignorance or misunderstanding, that’s frequently no longer the case. Headlines like “Casey Anthony found dismembered in truck” go viral via old-fashioned schadenfreude — even hate.

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