Final Fact-Check: Trisodium Phosphate aka ‘Paint Thinner’ Found in Cereals? Dangerous for children to ingest?

As a newly pronounced vegan, one of the things I am finding even more difficult than cutting out meat and dairy products, is finding products that do not contain any harmful or artificial ingredients. So when I came across this article on Facebook questioning if there were harmful chemicals, aka paint thinner in cereals and other everyday items, I figured it would be a good option for ‘Truth or Trash: Truthometer Edition’. While I have been seeing these claims circulating the internet on and off for the past few years now, I never really came across a clear consensus on whether or not this was fake news.

painthinner

Armed with the help from my peer review for this topic, I had originally intended to track down the mother referenced in the article that I saw the other day. Unfortunately, when I went back to reread it once I had decided on my topic, I realized that there was no name listed next to the mom that discovered the paint thinner in the list of ingredients on her child’s cereal. Plan B was to find some more sources that claimed the ingredient paint thinner is known as (trisodium phosphate) or TSP for short, was in fact in certain cereals.

I came across an article from Activist Post, another website I was unfamiliar with. The article claimed that there is no doubt that this ingredient is used in numerous breakfast cereals simply because it appears right on the ingredients label. They go on to say that while this additive is FDA approved in small dosages, the government and an environmental awareness group The Clean Water Act have made attempts to limit the use of TSP in cleaning supplies because it can have negative effects on the environment. They also attached a video of reporters Nick Brannigan and Vicky LePage taking to the streets of Las Vegas and showing people exactly what is in their favorite breakfast cereal.

I was on almost on board until LePage very obviously offers people an organic cereal and claims “we’re not promoting it or anything but…” followed by all the reasons why that cereal in particular was better. This rubbed me the wrong way and my gut feeling was that she was lying about the content not being sponsored at least in part by this ‘better’ cereal. Once I finished up the article I found out that Nick Brannigan is an investigative reporter and host of ‘Health Conspiracy Radio’ on NaturalNewsRadio.com. Although he seems to have a bit of knowledge on debunking health theories, this alone was not enough for me to consider this to be a reliable source. So I continued to dig, this time about the credibility of Activist Post. While I was disappointed I was unable to find any information from Activist Post on Snopes or any other common fact checking sources, I was relieved when I quickly found a list of fake news sites to stay away from posted by U.S. News. Surprise, Surprise, Activist Post is listed in the table and labeled as ‘Propaganda’. I then found a Wikipedia post called ‘Zimdars’ fake news list’. Activity Post appeared on the list once again and is filed under “Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information.” As well as “Websites that sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions.”

At this point, I figured it would be a good idea to try and find a more reliable source that agreed with Activity Post’s claims in order to take their word for them. I found two more related articles, one from Daily Buzz Live, and the other from Healthy Food Team. Both pretty much stating the same exact points from the Activist Post article, the problem here is, neither of these sources seemed to be credible either. Just from my recent fact-checking experiences, any time I was unable to locate the name of the author of the article, it ended up being fake news. Unfortunately, the article from Daily Buzz Live had no author in sight, while Healthy Food Team credited a very vague “Admin” for their article.

Not knowing what to believe, I decided to go straight to Snopes to see if any related information ever made its way to their site. And just like that, there it was:

snopesfalse

Hmmmm … normally this would be enough for me to rule the story as ‘Trash’, but I pressed on to read the entire explanation. As I did so, I began to learn that only part of the claim is considered ‘false’. According to Snopes, the claim about trisodium phosphate (or tribasic sodium phosphate; TSP) being an ingredient in many cereals has been lingering around the internet for years now. Apparently, the additive was originally added to cereals as early as the 1950’s. A photo that had gone viral recently was the reason the issue came back up once again.

Snopes goes on to say that the issue at hand is not whether or not certain foods contain this additive, or if TSP is commonly used as a cleaning product comparable to bleach, but instead it is about whether or not this cleaning chemical can be used safely as a food additive; which they claim it can be. They go on to make a brilliant comparison that I have never realized until I read just now: take the compound sodium bicarbonate for example. This chemical is used for the heavy-duty cleaning of many things, to bring your old silver charm bracelet back to its original glory, and even to put fires out. Sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, is an essential leavening agent. In order words, it is the ingredient in bread that makes the dough rise. Similarly to baking soda, TSP is can also be used as a leavening agent, particularly for baking. Snopes also reminds us that “TSP’s use as a food buffering agent and its use as an industrial cleaning agent involve vastly different scales”. Long story short, yes, trisodium phosphate aka paint thinner is in an ingredient in many popular cereals.

Okay Snopes, I see you. But now I had more questions…does that really mean it’s safe for us to consume? How much TSP is too much for someone to ingest? Do some cereals contain more TSP than others?

According to Online Holistic Health, Dr. Michelle Kmiec, who is “a board certified chiropractic physician who also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology, and a minor in Medical Research. She is a lifelong athlete who after curing herself 100% naturally from MS and anxiety, became an avid nutrition health researcher/promoter”. So what does Dr. Kmiec say TSP is doing in your cereal? Basically, TSP gives food an ideal texture so it able to stay fresh longer while sitting on the grocery store shelf until you purchase it and take it home. In a different form, as previously mentioned, TSP is also a cleaning agent, comparable to bleach. It is the main ingredient in degreasing paint aka paint thinner.

After confirming through numerous sources that trisodium phosphate is in fact an ingredient in many common cereals, and learning its purpose for being there, I still wanted to find out exactly how TSP much was in cereal and how much a person can consume. As I mentioned above, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls it ‘generally safe‘. SERIOUSLY?!

I also learned that it was considered ‘unsafe’ if consumed in generous amounts. According to the FDA, a person can consume up to 70 mg of TSP daily without suffering from any health risks. However, according to Natural News, cereal is not the only product that uses TS; processed meats, processed cheese, many canned soups, commercial cakes and baked goods, toothpastes, mouthwash, and even some hair coloring products all contain various amounts of TSP. The concern here is that we may be exposing ourselves to a much larger quantity of the additive each day.

Finally, I found that the Center for Disease Control advises that people to avoid contact with the compound. This is especially true when TSP is encountered in its natural form, as a white crystalline powder. According to the CDC, contact with TSP can lead to a burning, abdominal pain, collapse, or even shock. When it takes the form of a dry powder, it can cause corrosion of your skin, eyes, or respiratory system. Knowing this information, it is no wonder that people have been concerned for years about how safe it is for manufacturers to put it in foods and other products.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, other studies have also shown that if you consume enough TSP, it can even lead to the removal of vital bone calcium, the calcification of soft tissue, and kidney damage. If you ingest phosphate daily, you run a much higher risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Conclusion: By the end of this fact check, I can confidently say that trisodium phosphate or paint thinner is in fact being used in numerous popular cereals, and other everyday items as well. While it is normally used as a cleaning agent that can be compared to bleach, it has a different use in foods. TSP is used as an additive in foods in order to give them a longer shelf life. While the FDA claims that humans can safely consume up to 70mg of TSP a day, the CDC has a different view on the chemical. While they did agree that a small amount of TSP (aka what is found in cereal) would not necessarily be detrimental to one’s health, over consumption can lead to other health issues. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the chemical can overtime cause osteoporosis as well as kidney damage. They also go on to to agree with the CDC in suggesting that people avoid contact/ingestion of this leavening agent when possible. In regards to the original claim ‘Trisodium Phosphate aka ‘Paint Thinner’ Found in Cereals? Dangerous for children to ingest?’: while the first part of the claim was found to be true, the second, it still debatable. The FDA claims there were no negative side effects to ingesting small amounts of this chemical but the CDC does not exactly agree, suggesting that people ‘avoid contact’ with it. Beings that only one part of this claim was confirmed, I guess I’m going to have to file this one as

Chemical Trisodium Phosphate ‘Paint Thinner’ Found in Cereals? Dangerous for children to ingest? (draft)

As a newly pronounced vegan, one of the things I am finding even more difficult than cutting out meat and dairy products, is finding products that do not contain any harmful or artificial ingredients. So when I came across this article on Facebook questioning if there were harmful chemicals, aka paint thinner in cereals and other everyday items, I figured it would be a good option for ‘Truth or Trash: Truthometer Edition’. While I have been seeing these claims circulating the internet on and off for the past few years now, I never really came across a clear consensus on whether or not this was fake news.  

Armed with the help from my peer review for this topic, I had originally intended to track down the mother referenced in the article that I saw the other day. Unfortunately, when I went back to reread it once I had decided on my topic, I realized that there was no name listed next to the mom that discovered the paint thinner in the list of ingredients on her child’s cereal. Plan B was to find some more sources that claimed the ingredient paint thinner is known as (trisodium phosphate) or TSP for short, was in fact in certain cereals.

I came across an article from Activist Post, another website I was unfamiliar with. The article claimed that there is no doubt that this ingredient is used in numerous breakfast cereals simply because it appears right on the ingredients label. They go on to say that while this additive is FDA approved in small dosages, the government and an environmental awareness group The Clean Water Act have made attempts to limit the use of TSP in cleaning supplies because it can have negative effects on the environment. They also attached a video of reporters Nick Brannigan and Vicky LePage taking to the streets of Las Vegas and showing people exactly what is in their favorite breakfast cereal.

I was on almost on board until LePage very obviously offers people an organic cereal and claims “we’re not promoting it or anything but…” followed by all the reasons why that cereal in particular was better. This rubbed me the wrong way and my gut feeling was that she was lying about the content not being sponsored at least in part by this ‘better’ cereal. Once I finished up the article I found out that Nick Brannigan is an investigative reporter and host of ‘Health Conspiracy Radio’ on NaturalNewsRadio.com. Although he seems to have a bit of knowledge on debunking health theories, this alone was not enough for me to consider this to be a reliable source. So I continued to dig, this time about the credibility of Activist Post. While I was disappointed I was unable to find any information from Activist Post on Snopes or any other common fact checking sources, I was relieved when I quickly found a list of fake news sites to stay away from posted by U.S. News. Surprise, Surprise, Activist Post is listed in the table and labeled as ‘Propaganda’. I then found a Wikipedia post called ‘Zimdars’ fake news list’. Activity Post appeared on the list once again and is filed under “Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information.” As well as “Websites that sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions.”

At this point, I figured it would be a good idea to try and find a more reliable source that agreed with Activity Post’s claims in order to take their word for them. I found two more related articles, one from Daily Buzz Liveand the other from Healthy Food Team. Both pretty much stating the same exact points from the Activist Post article, the problem here is, neither of these sources seemed to be credible either. Just from my recent fact-checking experiences, any time I was unable to locate the name of the author of the article, it ended up being fake news. Unfortunately, the article from Daily Buzz Live had no author in sight, while Healthy Food Team credited a very vague “Admin” for their article.

Not knowing what to believe, I decided to go straight to Snopes to see if any related information ever made its way to their site. And just like that, there it was: (insert photo below)

 

Hmmmm … normally this would be enough for me to rule the story as ‘Trash’, but I pressed on to read the entire explanation. As I read on, I began to learn that only part of the claim is considered ‘false’. According to Snopes, the claim about trisodium phosphate (or tribasic sodium phosphate; TSP) in cereals have been lingering around the internet for years now. Apparently, the additive was originally added to cereals as early as the 1950’s. A photo that had gone viral recently was the reason the issue came back up once again.

Snopes goes on to say that the issue at hand is not whether or not certain foods contain this additive, or if TSP is commonly used as a cleaning product comparable to bleach, but instead it is about whether or not this cleaning chemical can be used safely as a food additive; which they claim it can be. They go on to make a brilliant comparison that I have never realized until I read just now: take the compound sodium bicarbonate for example. This chemical is used for the heavy-duty cleaning of many things, to bring your old silver charm bracelet back to its original glory, and even to put fires out. Sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, is an essential leavening agent. In order words, it is the ingredient in bread that makes the dough rise. SImilarly to baking soda, TSP is can also be used as a leavening agent, particularly for baking. Snopes also reminds us that “TSP’s use as a food buffering agent and its use as an industrial cleaning agent involve vastly different scales.”

 

Blog Post #6: Choosing a ‘Fact’ to Check

1. FDA Approved: Paint Thinner In Children’s Cereals 

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According to one mom, she recently found trisodium phosphate, which is an industrial strength paint thinner in her children’s breakfast cereal that she purchased at Trader Joe’s. Trisodium phosphate, otherwise known as trisodium orthophosphate, sodium phosphate, or TSP, is well known by construction workers, DIYers, and developers. Apparently it has also been found in things like toothpaste, hair color, processed cheeses and meats, canned soups, and mouthwash as well. I plan on attempting to debunk this possible fake news by utilizing credible fact checking websites and uncovering the reliability of the website that published this article as well as its author in particular.

2. This 1990 Issue of “Heavy Metal” Magazine Eerily Predicted Trump’s Presidency

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An issue of Heavy Metal Magazine from 1990 has apparently been getting a lot of attention lately. Some people have pointed out that it contains a dark comic strip that is extremely relevant in today’s world. The comic is called, “The Wall.” Artist Peter Kuper wrote the comic, which details a conspiracy between Donald Trump and Harry Helmsley, the now-deceased real estate mogul who previously owned the Empire State Building. Kuper’s comic also goes on to depict a president that builds a wall in New York City in order to keep the poor away from the rich. Elsewhere in the comic Trump hats can be spotted, along with graffiti that reads “Dump Trump.” If I choose this article, I would begin by attempting to find the original source as stated above. Next, I will search google, wikipedia, and fact checking websites to see what other sources say about this comic. While the article does include a picture of the comic itself, it could have easily been drawn up more recently instead of in the 1990’s.  

3. New Lg Smart Phone Keeps Mosquitoes Away

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The newest LG K7i, launched by the South Korean firm at the India Mobile Congress this week, is apparently embedded with technology that claims it will keep mosquitoes away. According to the article, the phone emits ultrasonic waves from a mesh grid located on back of it. These waves should repel the pests but are safe and harmless for humans, the company stated. Some other LG products such air conditioners and TVs are already available with this “mosquito-away” technology but this is the first time it has been used in a smartphone. If I chose this article to fact check, I will begin by looking for the original source that posted this article, if it does not end up being the one above. I will also look for previous fact-checks on reliable websites such as Snopes. Next, I plan on going searching the author of the article in order to find out their credibility in relation to the subject being discussed. upstream to find the study. Finally, I will read laterally to see what other reliable/well known sources have to say about the claims being made.

Fact-Check #5: Truth or Trash – Is Sitting the New Smoking?

chairI have been seeing a lot of articles floating around on social media claiming that ‘sitting is the new smoking.’ This is a huge claim if you ask me, and I am ready to debunk it. When I typed the statement above into google, I was flooded with pages of results. I clicked on an article from the most reputable source that I came across, CNN. The headline read “Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise.” The article cited a recent study that was done by Annals of Internal MedicineThey are claiming that things like excessive traveling, working at a desk job, or any other factors that require you to be sitting for an extended amount of time during the day, can be more detrimental to your health than you may think. According to this study, it is vital to take what they call a ‘movement break’ about every 30 minutes. You might be saying to yourself “I do one or more of those things (i.e.: excessive traveling, or sitting for extensive periods of time) but I exercise regularly and take good care of myself, so this doesn’t apply to me.” Unfortunately, neither one of those things make a difference. These researchers say, that there is a direct correlation between the time you spend sitting and your risk of an earlier death by ANY cause, regardless of how much you exercise. This conclusion was based on a recent study that was conducted with almost 8,000 adults. The longer that you spend sitting, the higher your chances are of an earlier death. 

‘Sit Less, Move More’ is what the American Heart Association has been urging people to do. Unfortunately, according to Keith Diaz, an associate research scientist in the Columbia University Department of Medicine and the lead researcher/author of this new study, this advice isn’t enough. He goes on to explain that when it comes to exercise, there are guidelines in place in order to educate people. He then gives the example that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults complete “moderate-intensity aerobic exercise” for a minimum of two and a half hours once a week, along with muscle strengthening activities for at least two days a week. Diaz is hoping that this study will help him to reach his goal of creating similar guidelines when it comes to sitting. The specific guideline that he has in mind would ideally read ‘For every 30 consecutive minutes of sitting, stand up and move/walk for five minutes at brisk pace to reduce the health risks from sitting.’

Let’s take a closer look at the study: In order to understand the relationship between sitting (or as these expects commonly refer to it as) ‘sedentary behavior’ and early death, Diaz and his extensive range of colleagues at Columbia and other institutions first turned to a study called the ‘Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke’ more commonly known as the REGARDS project. This study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, and is a national study that’s primary focus was learning more about what factors may increase a person’s risk of having a stroke.

The study focused mainly on adults 45 years or older and approximately 30,239 participants were examined between 2003 and 2007. These participants completed an interview over the phone along with an in home physical exam afterwards. Factors that were also considered were pretty much your traditional ‘risk’ factors like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Every 6 months, the participants were contacted and asked questions regarding stroke symptoms, hospitalizations as well as the status of their health in general. The REGARDS project’s purpose is to understand why people in certain parts of the country develop more strokes than people in others, and why African Americans tend to develop more strokes than other races. In order to keep track of how often these people were sitting, the researchers used accelerometers that were worn on each participant’s hip. During the four year study period, 340 total deaths were recorded. After analyzing the data, the team found that “sedentary time” or sitting/not moving around, on average, took up about 12.3 hours of a 16 hour waking day. According to the results, as total “sedentary time” increased, so did earlier death rates no matter the cause. They found that participants’ risk of death grew the longer that they went sitting without taking frequent breaks. This was found to be true for no matter the person’s sex, ace, race, exercise habits or body mass index. 

Armed with the information from the study above, Diaz and his team of researchers conducted a study with about 8,000 adults from the REGARDS project who agreed to participate in his study as well. According to Annals of Internal Medicine, their findings were similar to those of the study mentioned above. To put things into perspective for you, Diaz claimed that “those who sat for more than 13 hours per day had a 200% greater risk of death compared to those who sat for less than about 11 hours per day.” The study also found that those who often sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had about a 55% lower risk of death compared to the participants who frequently sat for more than 30 minutes at a time. Lastly, the people who usually sat for more than 90 minutes at a time had a nearly 200% greater risk of death than those who almost always sat for less than 90 minutes at a time. When questioned about WHY sitting longer was connected to an early death rate, Dr. David A. Alter, a professor at the University of Toronto in Ontario said it is “unclear and complex.” He went on to explain that this study was simply designed to figure out IF the two factors were connected, not necessarily why.

The next thing I did was go upstream to try and find the original publisher of this study, as well as confirm its credibility. I searched Annals of Internal Medicine to get a better idea of the source of the study. According to Wikipedia, “Annals of Internal Medicine is an academic medical journal published by the American College of Physicians (ACP). It is one of the most widely cited and influential specialty medical journals in the world. Annals publishes content relevant to the field of internal medicine and related sub-specialties. Annals’ mission is to promote excellence in medicine, enable physicians and other healthcare professionals to be well-informed members of the medical community and society, advance standards in the conduct and reporting of medical research, and contribute to improving the health of people worldwide.” I was also able to find the study on Google Scholar, which indicated that Annals of Internal Medicine was in fact the original study.

I was also able to find another study published in 2014, that coincidentally enough found similar results. It was referenced in an article by Harvard Medical School. The two main differences between these studies were that this one was made up of only women, and had a lot more participants than Diaz’ did. The study was conducted by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, and was made up of approximately 92,234 women ages 50–79 who were studied over a period of 6 years. Without being too repetitive, this study also concluded that there is definitely a relationship between how long people sit or are considered to be having sedentary time, and all-cause deaths. It also mentioned that this was true for most people no matter their age, sex, physical activity, etc. According to Wikipedia, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine is a bimonthly journal that is the official journal of the American College of Preventive Medicine. I was also able to locate this journal on Google Scholar, which led me to believe it was also credible. I will be filing this in the TRUTH cabinet, because of the reliability of the sources as well as the relevant expertise of the doctors that conducted them. 

 

Truth or Trash: Filter Bubbles

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While Eli Pariser’s Ted talk was short and sweet, it was very eye opening for me. I found it extremely interesting that some of the most popular websites on the internet (like Facebook and Google) have recently began using an “invisible algorithmic editing of the web” according to what links are clicked on and what is searched. Another name for this is a filter bubble. 

According to Pariser, there are up to 57 different factors that contribute to what exactly your tailored results are vs someone else’s; some that he mentioned are your location, and the computer/browser being used. I also found it interesting that even if a story is considered to be relevant or “trending’ news for a particular day, it could still show up on one persons search results but not another’s: Pariser showed an example of this when he asked two of his friends to search “Egypt” on Google and the results were remarkably different. He then goes on to explain that even some of the largest news outlets on the Internet (like Yahoo News) are now “personalized” aka showing the user what they think we want to see, based on their previous searches.

  1. Conservative– TownhallDrudge Report, The Geller ReportBreitbart, and The Blaze
  2. Liberal– The Raw StoryOccupy DemocratsHuffington Post, The Intercept, and AlterNet 
  3. Mainstream– NY Times, ABC News, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Politico 

The common thread that I found between all three filter bubbles was *surprise, surprise,* Donald Trump. Two others that were frequently mentioned were the monologue that Jimmy Kimmel did regarding healthcare, and immigration policies. While each bubble is covering the same stories, it was ironic to see just how differently they each presented the information, or their “truth.” What I found interesting was the fact that depending on the source’s bias, each story was told from a completely different angle. For example: while the Jimmy Kimmel story was a common thread between all of the chosen sources, the Liberal media seems to support Kimmel and his argument while opposing media may have felt he was being a bit harsh by “attacking” host Brian Kilmeade. 

Bottom line is: when the Internet shows us only what we like, or what it believes that we are most interested in seeing, we are getting cut off from the other different points of view that can assist in our greater understanding of the world that we live in. It is important for us to find ways to potentially ‘burst’ these bubbles that we have all been floating around in. According to an article by Illinois.edu, deleting your cookies and history from all browsers being used regularly, disabling tracking features on your devices, and keeping your Facebook/other social media accounts on private can all help to get outside of your bubble. 

 

 

 

Fact-Check #3: ‘Occupy Democrats’ Truth or Trash?

When it comes to reading laterally, Caulfield finds it helpful to follow the steps process, expertise, and aim in order to verify the credibility of a source. Process is referring to the fact that a credible source would have a policy in place that makes sure accurate facts are being released and mistakes are being properly corrected if needed. Expertise is the importance of researching more about the authors of the articles coming from the source in question. Caulfield explains that a professional or expert in the subject matter being discussed may be more reliable than a reporter who is simply summarizing events as a writer. Aim is looking into what exactly the source in question is trying to accomplish. What incentives does the author have to publish facts instead of fabrications?

Caulfield goes on to explain that instead of spending an extended period of time on the site itself, lateral readers are initially looking for what other resources, (reliable ones ideally) say about the particular source. While most people are guilty of failing to take this approach and poking around the actual site for evidence of being trustworthy, this doesn’t exactly make much sense according to Caulfield. If you are unsure of whether or not a site is reliable, how can you believe claims made about themselves?

I began by searching my chosen source, Occupy Democrats on Wikipedia. According to them, “Occupy Democrats is a left wing political organization based in the United States, founded in 2012 by twin brothers Omar Rivero and Rafael Rivero. The motto of the organization is to provide a ‘counterbalance to the Republican Tea Party.'”

Process: This raised a red flag for me because it states that it is a left wing / democratic organization, so we can assume that the site’s information is going to be biased and completely against right wing views. Expertise: Next I looked up Omar Rivero and Rafael Rivero, the twin brothers and founders of the source in question. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on the men that would lead me to believe that they had any expertise in the political field, let alone enough to be able to truthfully report political news. Aim: By taking one look at the articles posted on Occupy Democrats, not only is it is obvious that the headlines are trying very hard to be attention grabbing, but the stories are clearly one sided as well. This makes me question the source’s reliability further.

Since I was trying to avoid articles written by the website itself, I completed a google search for Occupy Democrats with the syntax provided by Caulfield. This saved time by preventing me from having to search through pages and pages of results from the actual site. One of the first articles that I came across was from a source called fox15abilene.com. Although I did not recognize the name, I decided to look into the article because of the claims it was making. The headline read ‘Breitbart, Occupy Democrats among list of alleged fake, misleading news sites to avoid.’ The article went on to say that a Google Docs file was shared across the Internet shortly after Facebook and Google announced their recent efforts to fight against fake news. According to this article, the document was created by Melissa Zimdars, who is an assistant professor at Merrimack College. Apparently, the document lists news websites that publish either misleading or completely fake news.

Upon returning back to my search results, I noticed a link by PolitiFact. A website that I recognized from previous class discussions, I now trusted it when it came to investigating the accuracy of stories. PolitiFact had listed some of the recent Occupy Democrats articles that they had fact checked, along with a PolitiFact scorecard rating the sites accuracy.

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As you can see, they didn’t exactly score too well. While there were not any stories that could be found ‘mostly false’, there were none that were found to be completely ‘true’ either. Although they came close with a whopping ONE article that was considered to be ‘mostly true’, and three that were half true, the majority of their content was fake news. The remaining 8 stories that were investigated by Politifact were found to be ‘false’ and ‘pants on fire’ aka complete and utter … 

The final link that I looked into was from another reputable and legitimate source that we also previously covered in class, Snopes. There were a total of 13 articles being investigated for truthfulness, over half of them were found to be false. The remaining articles were a mix of ‘half true’ and ‘unproven’ facts. You can review the full list for yourself, here. If I were you, I would definitely get my news from somewhere other than Occupy Democrats. 

Fact-Check #2: Jamie Lee Curtis Returning for ‘Halloween’ Sequel in 2018?!

Earlier this afternoon, I was about as excited as the dancing pumkin-headed man above after seeing ComicBook Now! tweet an article via popculture.com that claimed another sequel to the ~I C O N I C~ 1978 movie ‘Halloween’ is currently in the works! Right when you thought it couldn’t get any better than that, !!!!!JAMIE LEE CURTIS!!!!! is supposedly coming back to play her role as Laurie one last time for the final film in the ‘Halloween’ series. In the spirit of Halloween being right around the corner, I thought this was the perfect story to fact check.

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Once I clicked on the popculture.com article that was linked, I was able to locate the author of it (unlike my last fact check article), this gave me hope this news was truth rather than trash like the last. As I scrolled down and began to read, I saw a tweet from the account @Miramax. Although I didn’t necessarily recognize the name, I was fairly sure that it was a production company. It was also a verified account which added to the legitimacy of this story. The article then went on to state that the new movie would not be a remake of the classic (like the new ‘It’ for example) but instead it will continue with the storyline following the events that took place in the most recent Halloween installation of the franchise, ‘Halloween Resurrection’ that was released in 2002.

After reading the article, I decided see if I was able to find similar claims from other sources. I found a similar article by Dave McNary, a film reporter for variety.com. This article was posted after the original one referenced above, and it included a lot more details as well. Variety goes on to say that it will, in fact, be the final film of the series, and it will be produced by Trancas International Films, Blumhouse Productions, and Miramax. McNary goes on to reveal that Curtis’ character Laurie will have one final confrontation with Michael Myers, almost four decades later. As a movie buff myself, I am usually worried about the producers and director being able to successfully recreate the same magic and feeling that the original evoked. Once I read on and learned that one of my favorite horror producers, Jason Blum, was chosen for this movie my concerns went away. Blum has produced thrillers like ‘The Purge’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’. More recently, he was responsible for the production of two of my recent favorites, ‘Split’ and ‘Get Out’. I have no doubt in my mind that Blum, along with John Carpenter (director of the original ‘Halloween’) as executive producer and creative director will be a winning combination for this film.

The final step I took in order to be able to say I can confirm this AMAZING news was to head straight to the source. From the moment I opened my Twitter app, I noticed that Jamie Lee Curtis was trending! Just to gather further evidence I went straight to her personal twitter and saw this GLORIOUS tweet:

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Okay guys, I’m not going to lie between the photo and the caption, “Same porch. Same clothes. Same issues. 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween. Release date 10/19/18.” I have chills!!! I am beyond ecstatic to say that we can file this story in the ‘Truth’ cabinet. The only problem here is the release date. October 2018?! Until then, I’ll be sitting here feeling like Beetlejuice … only 399 days to go smh.

 

Fact-Check #1: Malia Obama Busted Buying 6 POUNDS of Marijuana In Chicago?

This is the post excerpt.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed, the first article that jumped out at me was one that claimed Malia Obama got busted buying a whopping 6 pounds of marijuana. About a year ago, a video surfaced of Malia smoking what appeared to be a joint at Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago. Since there was video evidence that proved this claim to be true, I was curious about the drug bust allegations even if they were extreme. I attached the video below.

Once the article loaded I saw that it came from a website called “The Daily News Explorer”. While I had never heard of this particular source before, the photo included in the article should have said something to me about their credibility.

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With one quick glance at this photo it is obvious that Malia has been photoshopped in. How is it that she got “busted” but is the only person in the lineup without a mugshot?Before I was even able to read the article in its entirety, I couldn’t help but notice that it had no professional tone whatsoever. Phrases like “Malia was caught buying weed edibles from two of her thug friends as well as enough pot to make thug rapper Snoop Dog look like an amateur, according to sources within Chicago’s elite Drug Task Force” led me to further question the legitimacy of the source. Not only was the phrasing of the article odd and juvenile, but it lacked key details as well. For example, the quote above along with other statements throughout the article failed to list names of anyone involved in this “bust.” In fact, none of the quotes throughout the article had real names along with them, they simply referenced positions like “sources within Chicago’s elite Drug Task Force” and an even more vague “spokesman.” Not only was I unable to find any actual names referenced throughout the actual article itself, but there was no author’s name listed either. The article also omitted details such as the time and day that the “bust” took place.

Without having to do much more research with fact checking websites, I was able to confirm that my initial instinct was correct and this article was in fact, untrue. With a quick google search, snopes.com, and politifact.com, both found the story to be fake news. According to snopes.com, the article originated on a site called “The Last Line of Defense” and claimed that Malia was caught and arrested along with a gang of older men for drinking, doing drugs, and dogfighting at a park in Chicago. The site went on to claim that Malia was arrested along with seven others and charged with endangerment of animals, public intoxication and possession of a controlled substance. Snopes also explained that the picture being used in these articles was a photograph of an actual dogfighting ring bust in 2013 which was edited to include a picture of Malia’s face in place of one of the original convicted men.

More recently, in the beginning of August, a similar article to the one that I came across was posted on a website called “The Land of the Free” changing the dogfighting claims to those stating Malia was caught purchasing 6 pounds of marijuana. No matter the claims, it is safe to say we can throw this story in the trash.