Fake news, prank news can look deceptively real

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Prank news, or fake news? Articles are making the rounds online in Middle Tennessee, touting outlandish headlines from professional looking URLs.

From accusations of poor restaurant practices to rumors of cold-blooded reptiles in our waters, these prank sites are having very real effects.

“Those stories, when they get out there, they have a life of their own,” noted Barry Cross, with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

The story is question was born on the shores of the Duck River and Percy Priest Lake.

News of alligators in the water waded into Barry Cross’ news feed.

“My wife, who was on social media at the time, said there’s an alligator on the Duck River,” he explained. “My first thought was, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Soon the agency was flooded with calls, leading to this release on their official page.

Fake articles come from a number of websites, but most lead to the same home screen.

The prank news generator simply needs an image, title, article, and prank news is born.

The website, though, can turn malicious in the wrong hands.

Recently, an article accusing a Middle Tennessee restaurant of purchasing rodent meat caught fire in the community.

So before you share, before you click, make sure to check the website and your sources.

Know that if it seems outlandish, like alligators in the Duck River, it most likely is.

“If you see something that doesn’t seem right, check with our website,” said Cross. “Check with our social media pages, and come to a conclusion.”