A racially charged fake news story has claimed Malia Obama was "arrested with a gang of thugs" in Chicago on dogfighting charges.
The Last Line of Defense published a story making the false claim that former President Barack Obama's daughter, Malia, had been arrested in Chicago on May 5, Snopes reports. The story said that the former first daughter had joined "a gang of thugs ... for a day of drinking, drugs, and dogfighting."
The story was accompanied by an altered image of Malia placed alongside the mugshots of several men. The men in the photo were actually from a dogfighting ring that was busted in 2013.
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"Malia was arrested along with seven others and charged with wanton endangerment of animals, public intoxication and possession of a controlled substance," claimed The Last Line of Defense.
"She was found in the company of mostly older men when police arrived after being called by a concerned citizen complaining about a loud group of people watching dogs fight in the park," said the fake story. "According to the Secret Service, Malia had slipped away late last night after being told open air parties at public parks were too dangerous. She wasn’t seen again until she showed up in the 12th precinct jail. her parents haven't been available for comment."
Malia has been seen numerous times in New York City recently, where she has been working as an intern, AOL reports.
The website discreetly mentions that it is a "satirical" news source, but many of its readers are frequently fooled into thinking that its stories are real.
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"The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don't necessarily exist," says The Last Line of Defense on its website. "All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real."
That hasn't stopped the site's readers from believing that its stories are true. On a Facebook post linking to a false story titled, "Bill Clinton Screws Up Royally with Response to Hillary Coming Out as a Lesbian," readers left comments expressing their views on the story.
"As expected the Clinton's are scum and full of mystery as just how evil they truly are," wrote one commenter. "It's no surprise that Hillary's lesbian it's been known for a very long time. It's the corruption they will commit to have that way in life!"
"Most of us have known this way back when she was in college," commented another.
FactCheck.org has released guidelines to help readers identify fake news when they come across it. The site advises considering the source of the news, making sure to check for "lookalike URLs" which can resemble those of real sites (for example, "ABC.com.co").
FactCheck also advises readers to look further than simply reading a shocking headline before sharing a story, stating that "fake news, particularly efforts to be satirical, can include several revealing signs in the text."
It's also important for readers to look at a story objectively, rather than through their own political bias. "Confirmation bias leads people to put more stock in information that confirms their beliefs and discount information that doesn't," advises FactCheck.