LANSING – Fake news is now headline news. Add in fake apps and fake websites, and many organizations have a huge credibility problem. Let’s explore what you can do for real.

Hoaxes have been around forever. From online pictures of seven-headed snakes to Russian President Putin riding a bear, most people know better and move on with a smile.

But in 2017, the word “fake” has taken on an entirely new meaning. When combined with terms like “global propaganda” “disinformation efforts,” “semi-fake,” or “sensationalized and exaggerated stories,” traditional “spin” campaigns seem old-fashioned.

Lately, while the political left focuses on how Russia used fake news to potentially influence the election, conservatives complain that the mainstream media can’t be trusted. President Trump even called CNN fake news.

CNN responded by reporting on President Trump’s dangerous war on the media.

And moving beyond traditional media outlets, more and more Americans are getting their news updates from Facebook and other social media sites. Last year, Pew Research Center reported that almost half of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook

But the “fake” situation for end users goes far beyond where Americans go for news updates. Fake apps being downloaded also abound.

Back in November 2016, The New York Times reported:

“Hundreds of fake retail and product apps have popped up in Apple’s App Store in recent weeks — just in time to deceive holiday shoppers.

The counterfeiters have masqueraded as retail chains like Dollar Tree and Foot Locker, big department stores like Dillard’s and Nordstrom, online product bazaars like and Polyvore, and luxury-goods makers like Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo.

Entering credit card information opens a customer to potential financial fraud. Some fake apps contain malware that can steal personal information or even lock the phone until the user pays a ransom. And some fakes encourage users to log in using their Facebook credentials, potentially exposing sensitive personal information.”

And government apps and websites are not immune. In 2015, the FBI warned consumers of fake government websites with alerts such as: “By the time the victim realizes it is a scam, they may have had extra charges billed to their credit/debit card, had a third-party designee added to their [Employer Identification Number] card and never received the service(s) or documents requested. Additionally, all of their PII data has been compromised by the criminals running the websites and can be used for any number of illicit purposes.”

Even in India, as reported by the UK Daily Mail in January 2017, fraudsters cash in on Digital India drive with fake government apps which steal money and personal info. “Online fraudsters are creating fake mobile recharge and government websites carrying Modi’s name and picture and then circulating the malicious links on social media platforms.”

To address this global epidemic in “fake,” there are planned commission reports, global inquiries from governments and even threats of legislation regarding actions required by social media companies.

Is ‘Fake’ Really a Tech problem?

To read the rest of Dan’s column, click on