Letter: Don’t be drawn in by internet’s fake news

From: Jean Wilkins


Last month Edgar Maddison Welch drove from his home in North Carolina to the Comet Ping Pong pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. Armed with a Colt .38 revolver and a Colt AR-15, he walked in and started shooting. The adults and children attending this family restaurant were able to escape out the back, and fortunately no one was hurt.

Why had Welch done this? He had fallen for a fake news story making the rounds of the internet that child sex slaves under the control of Hillary Clinton were being held in the basement of Comet Ping Pong. But there were no sex slaves. There wasn’t even a basement.

The story’s moral seems to be this: don’t believe something just because you can find it on some remote corner of the web. Be cautious. Be aware that a sensational story is likely — though not necessarily — false. And don’t, on the basis of something you’ve come across on the internet, go in with guns blazing.

Any one of us can be fooled. Every one of us has been mistaken at some time or other. We need to do our best to discern what is true, and to help us tell fact from fiction the article “Truth: Teach It” by Andrea Neal, published in the Dec. 31 issue of The Republic, is a good place to start.