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.