Fake news stories have been around for a while. But local officials say recently, several of those stories have created panic during already dangerous situations. Officials say one fake news story, in particular, can best be described as disgusting. More creative ways to distribute these fake news stories means people need to be even more vigilant.
"More nuisance, than anything else," says Carl Junction Police Chief Delmar Haase.
Case in point: During recent severe flooding throughout the Four States, an article on a prank website erroneously said homes along Pennell Street in Carl Junction were being evacuated.
"Pennell Street is one of the highest spots in town," says Haase, "If we had to evacuate along Pennell Street, we would've had to evacuate nearly the entire town."
Haase says an already stressful, confusing time for the entire Four State area was made worse.
"We got inquiries, we got calls. It spread like wild fire that we were evacuating a part of town that would not be evacuated," says Haase.
An article on Channel22News.com said police were looking for a male MSSU student, possibly armed and dangerous, who allegedly took a female student into a car and sexually assaulted her.
A MSSU media relations official says the article is inaccurate, and the incident never happened.
The owner of Channel22News.com, Korry Scherer, who lists his address in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told us by phone that his website clearly lists prank services, saying, "How could someone possibly, literally take that seriously when it says it's a prank?"
A "you've been pranked" message is to the side of Channel22News.com's fake news stories. But that disclaimer disappears when stories are printed.
"There's nothing, that I can tell immediately, that says it's fake," says one MSSU student.
We showed that printed version of the fake sexual assault story at MSSU to students on campus, then asked if they thought friends would still share the online version of the story.
"They would just share it. Sometimes they don't even read it. They just read the headline," says another MSSU student.
As society is getting more fast-paced, time-consuming research pays off even more.
"If you read a news story that's not local, and it's about local events, you can check with the local news, you can check with the local police department, sheriff's office, and find out whether any of that stuff is valid," says Haase.
The owner of Channel22News.com also told us people can contact him to remove any fake news stories.
The fake news story about a MSSU student being sexually assaulted also included a picture and name of the so-called suspect. MSSU officials confirm that name and picture is of an actual MSSU student; however, we don't know if that student was a willing participant in this fake news story.
Korry Scherer is listed as owner of several other websites, including Channel24News.com and CrazyNewsReports.com.
GoDaddy.com is the listed registrar of Channel22News.com. A GoDaddy.com representative told us that often times determining what is "fake news" is difficult for them, and so they rely on court orders for proof.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas