Real or fake? On Twitter I can’t tell

Len Robbins Guest Columnist

August 31, 2013

About two years ago, I made the mistake of mentioning my newspaper’s Facebook page in front of my daughter, who was 12 at the time.

“Facebook? Hmmph,” she scoffed. “That’s for old people. You need to use Twitter.”

Realizing she was my target audience in a decade, I took her advice and opened a Twitter account. At first, I had no idea what to do with it. Eventually, I started to utilize Twitter to pass on local sports scores, link to news items, and tease stories for our print edition.

I also found Twitter valuable in keeping up with headlines from other news and entertainment sources. On Twitter, you “follow” other Twitter accounts, and they basically post headlines of their stories or videos, and you can then link to whatever interests you. Some folks use their Twitter for social interaction. I don’t.

For whom I follow on Twitter, I stick to the basics to keep me informed of what’s important in the world: The New York Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ESPN, the local school system, The Huffington Post, other local news sites, comedian Jim Gaffigan, Seth Emerson’s Bulldog Blog, newspaper blogs, and The Onion.

Let me explain something first. The Huffington Post is an online news aggregator that covers news, politics, business, entertainment, etc. It’s supposed to be real. The Onion is a satirical, fictional news site. They make up news for the sake of comedy. And on Twitter, you can’t tell The Huffington Post from The Onion. Unless you look at the icons next to their posts, which I obviously don’t, having read numerous hilarious stories only to find out they are fabricated by The Onion, or real, as reported by The Huffington Post.

But I’ll let you be the judge. Here are some headlines from both sites I lifted from just one day. On each of these, try to guess which one is real (Huffington Post) or fake (The Onion). At the end of this exercise, I’ll tell you the answers.

1. Controversial Target ad likens breasts to pieces of meat

2. Florida is running out of sand

3. Opening strains of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ bring surge of caucasians to wedding dance floor

4. Kim Kardashian discusses eating her placenta

5. BREAKING: Middle East conflict not solved today

6. College football player under scrutiny after backstage meeting with Lil Wayne

7. Narrow gaps in bathroom stall doors to be widened

8. How sleep can help you be a better piano player

9. Russian mayoral candidate proposes gay blood ban, free conversion therapy for gays

10. Refuge plans to euthanize the threatened species it was created to protect

11. Washington’s Hobby Lobby lobbies to strengthen hobbies

12. Ford develops new SUV that runs purely on gasoline

13. Hundreds dead in Egypt’s inspiring march toward democracy

14. RV crashes into boring bar

15. Watch the cute way this man and his dog yawn together

16. Bald eagle soars over students, smacks into window

17. Economists advise nation’s poor to invent the next Facebook

18. White House increases security after man shows up at Oval Office looking for Obama

19. ‘Expendables 3’ cast requests to be paid in steroids, meat

20. The awkward reason this man needs to sell his Harley quickly

Can you tell the difference? Answers: 1. HP; 2. HP; 3. Onion; 4. HP; 5. Onion; 6. HP; 7. Onion; 8. HP; 9. HP; 10. HP; 11. Onion; 12. Onion; 13. Onion; 14. HP; 15. HP; 16. HP; 17. Onion; 18. Onion; 19. Onion; 20. HP.

Now my daughter tells me I have to learn how to use Instagram. Hmmph.

© Len Robbins 2013