Earlier this month, a report from Futurism revealed that a blatantly false article about Claire “Grimes” Boucher openly criticizing her ex-boyfriend Elon Musk for failing to pay child support had appeared on the Microsoft-run news website MSN.
The tweet that served as the basis for the story’s assertions was obviously false, but that didn’t stop the Inquisitr from publishing it or MSN from sharing it with a larger audience.
It turns out it was just the beginning of MSN’s careless dissemination of obviously false information.
Consider their fondness for Exemplore, a hokey paranormal and conspiracy news website that promotes myths like cryptids, Atlantean relics, and miraculous crystals.
Of course, the scientific establishment would have been absolutely shattered if even one of these claims had the slightest chance of being true. Instead, each of these spectacular headlines is based on a shaky, unconvincing film that doesn’t persuade us that mermaids, bigfoot, angels, or aliens are real.
While some of Exemplore’s MSN headlines are obviously absurd, others, like the Grimes story, are more deceptively plausible. A quick scan of the Grimes-Musk scandal comments on MSN reveals that many readers were susceptible to deception.
Is it proper for Exemplore to publish clickbait junk? Yes, and perhaps its fans like suspending their disbelief, much like those who once read supermarket tabloids. It’s not necessarily bad to believe in bigfoot, but it probably does show a less-than-average understanding of reality.
Enormous SEO power
Additionally, MSN has strong SEO capabilities that frequently allow its material to outrank the original publisher and rise to the top of search results.
A search engine will return MSN’s republication of a story while occasionally deleting the original, giving it extra legitimacy.
If by chance a reader Googles something that matches one of MSN’s numerous phony headlines, the search engine will return MSN’s fake version.
In addition to other respectable publications syndicated by MSN, including Bloomberg, The New York Times, and The Daily Beast, a large portion of that enormous readership will also see sloppy and inaccurate pieces from Exemplore, the Inquisitr, and other bottom-tier publishers.
The result, ineluctably, weakens the good work carried out by diligent and moral publications, encourages the rubbish published by subpar content farms, and erodes the public’s confidence in science and technology media.