Video Games Also Have A Fake News Problem

Very fake image via very fake website GTA6GAME.com

In the wake of the 2016 election, one of this month's biggest stories is the rise of fake news, as passed from uncle to uncle via Facebook and Google. And while fake video game articles may not be as dangerous as stories about Hillary Clinton assassinating her aides, it's still worth noting: video games have the same problem.

For years now, aided by robots and algorithms, a number of sketchy websites have been serving misinformation to anyone who uses Google. Searching for info on hugely anticipated games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or unannounced dream projects like Fallout 5 will lead you to all sorts of fake information about release dates and settings from sites with names like GameNGuide and FragHero. As pointed out on Twitter by Tim Marchman, editor of the Drew Magary fansite Deadspin.com, fake news is everywhere.

Let's take a trip through one of these websites, shall we? Here's what happens when we search for "gta 6" on Google:

Clicking on N4BB - which, to reiterate, is one of the top items on Google - takes you to an article that's entirely made up:

In case you're wondering: Grand Theft Auto VI has not yet been announced, and whenever it does come out, teleportation will probably not be a feature. (A female protagonist would be pretty cool, though.)

Sites like N4BB generally don't get much attention from hardcore enthusiasts - although occasionally a major gaming website will fall for a well-timed fake - but on Facebook, these fake stories regularly reach millions of people (and they don't even have to talk about chemtrails). Here, for example, is a completely made-up story with some 10,000 reactions and over 2,000 shares on Facebook:

A quick glance at this FragHero article for any sort of sourcing leads you to a website called TheBitBag, which reports:

It has been reported before that GTA 6 accounts point to the upcoming Sony Playstation event. This will serve as its official release. They even said actress Eva Mendez will be included on board to serve as the game's lead hero. Everyone was looking forward to the 2017 release!   Guess what? Sony and Rockstar changed their minds! GTA fans everywhere are very disappointed, as expected. During the recent PlayStation Meeting, the genius game developers were hush hush about any GTA 6 info.   As a matter of fact, RockStar did not even show up at the event. There were lots of speculations regarding the game's release. Unfortunately, they decided to pull out, as indicated by released reports. Apparently, GTA 6 will be postponed for release until 2018. Ugh!

This is, as you can probably guess, entirely fake. There are countless articles like this across the internet, popping up on your friends' Facebooks or the front page of Google whenever you search for the hottest sequels and unannounced games.

So remember, in 5-10 years when media sites all disappear and the staff of Kotaku is running Facebook's trending topics, we warned you.


Comments

    Maybe because Kotaku isn't a fake news site?

    I have a hard time wrapping my head around the larger 'fake news' issue post-US election, but to apply it to video games in such a hap-hazard way like Jason does seems odd.

    'News' is a term that has changed very much over a short amount of time, it's hard to keep up.

    The rumour mill in sports journalism, for instance, no doubt operates on actual un-confirmable news that reporters cannot publish - not so in gaming and other tech circles.

      I have a hard time wrapping my head around the larger 'fake news' issue post-US election, but to apply it to video games in such a hap-hazard way like Jason does seems odd.

      'News' is a term that has changed very much over a short amount of time, it's hard to keep up.

      The rumour mill in sports journalism, for instance, no doubt operates on actual un-confirmable news that reporters cannot publish - not so in gaming and other tech circles.

      I have a hard time wrapping my head around what you are actually trying to say in this post.

      Last edited 22/11/16 10:40 am

      It's simple.

      Many mainstream and alternative outlets have realised that their credibility is at an all time low.
      This cycle revealed a purposeful attempt to manipulate information and so now the outlets are trying to appear legitimate by focusing on crappy tabloid sites rather than fixing their own bullcrap.

      Google has shown the kinds of sites they will pursue, while democrats and republicans sensationalise the whole affair and use it to attack the other side.

      Rumour mills have always existed and labelled as such in every industry that gets reported on. The headlines discussed in the article are either presented as matters of fact, or clarified to be speculation way into the body.
      News is still news and presented as such, but in pretty much all media opinion has become more common for clickbait/rabble rousing purposes. Mainstream media outlets still clearly print OPINION in bylines or in the header, but a lot of people are unable to discriminate between a news story and an opinion piece.

    The Washington Post had an interview with a guy who writes fake news articles - he considers them satire and seemed very disturbed that people took them seriously. He did also say that he made $10,000 per month from AdSense - so if you're wondering why people write all this fake news stuff, there's your answer.

    I get the reality running a website like this, bills don't pay themselves and money has to be taken where it can be found, but you can't sit there and blast Facebook while you have 'you may also like' style links on your articles. The Facebook side of this is more important and has been ignored for too long, but ultimately this goes beyond just Facebook. This problem is deeply tied to the fact that the standards for online advertising has been getting chipped away at for years.
    We've tied making money on the internet to clicks at all costs and we really need to find a way to undo that. As long as the click is more important than the content this is the way it's going to play out.

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