“Fake News” is rapidly becoming the buzzword of 2017. It all started with the theory Facebook had in some way influenced the US Presidential election by allowing false stories onto its network, but it has since become Donald Trump’s favorite phrase for any story he doesn’t agree with.
Alas, this article isn’t going to include the likes of CNN and other accused “fake news networks.” I’m not even going to include InfoWars and other propaganda outlets. I’m only interested in fake news sites that admit they’re fake news. (And of course, fake news isn’t always funny, as we can see with the increasing risks of artificial intelligence being used in deepfakes.)
Keep reading to discover 10 of the best websites for faux news and satire.
1. The Onion
Example Headline: Lucrative New Oil Extraction Method Involves Drilling Directly Into Gas Stations
I have to start with The Onion. No other satire site comes close in terms of readership or brand recognition.
The beauty of The Onion’s website is its layout. It looks exactly like a regular news site; there’s no suggestion on the front page that all the articles are satire.
It’s an approach that’s caught out plenty of high-profile names; Republican Congressman John Fleming famously ranted on his Facebook page over an article titled “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex”, while Fox News quoted segments from Obama’s non-existent 75,000-word email to the American population.
There are sections for News, Sport, Politics, Science and Technology, Entertainment, and even Video.
Example Headline: Man Hooked Up To Alcohol Drip After Completing Dry January
Do you prefer your satire with a healthy dose of Irish humor?
The nation of Ireland has a long-standing reputation for being the butt of endless jokes. Waterford Whispers News takes that stereotype and spins it into a witty and engaging site. As you might expect from an Irish website, there is an abundance of swear words. In fact, the majority of headlines on the site include at least one curse word.
The content itself is split between local-themed stories and global events. There’s even a brilliant “On This Day” section (1974: Violent Clashes In Dublin As 12 Pint Driving Limit Put In Place).
Example Headline: When This Man Lost His Job, He Didn’t Know What To Do—3 Years Later, He Co-Owns A Dinner Jacket
Clickhole is owned and operated by the same people who are responsible for The Onion.
However, while The Onion presents itself as a serious news site, Clickhole takes its inspiration from BuzzFeed, Upworthy, and other similar clickbait sites. It’s stated aim is “to make sure all [our] content panders to and misleads readers just enough to make it go viral.”
The Guardian newspaper has questioned whether the articles are “a satire of clickbait, or good satire done as clickbait.” Take a look and decide for yourself.
You can expect up to ten new articles every day.
4. Private Eye
Example Headline: Turkey, Torture, and the UK’s £100m Deal
Private Eye is a British publication. It has been in existence since 1961 and – somewhat amazingly – the biweekly paper version is the UK’s best-selling news and current affairs magazine. Even more astonishingly, its circulation figures are rising. It averaged 250,000 copies a week in 2016, a new record.
The publication is famous for its biting sarcasm and public ridiculing of everything from newspapers to Prime Ministers. It’s now so well-known that many of its columns, recurring features, and parodies have become part of the UK’s pop culture.
5. El Jueves
Example Headline: Trump Hangs Up on Rajoy After Confusing Him with A Telemarketer
El Jueves is arguably the finest Spanish-language satire publication.
The parody starts with the name; despite being called “El Jueves” (Thursday), the print edition is released every Wednesday.
Its primary focus is on cartoons and comic strips that parody the news of the day. The publication has frequently found itself on the wrong side of the law, most recently in 2014 when a proposed front cover pictured King Juan Carlos passing a crown of feces to his son and heir, Prince Felipe.
Example Headline: What, in the Name of God, is a ‘Pay Rise’? Asks Britain
The Daily Mash is a British version of The Onion. The publishers present it as a serious news outlet, with sections for News, Sport, Politics, Opinion, and Psychology. It takes a left-of-center stance on most issues and has earned a wide following among students as a result.
It hit the headlines around the world in 2017 for a story titled “Legally, I Can Kill Him” – supposedly a reference to Queen Elizabeth’s legal impunity if she were to kill Donald Trump with a sword while he was on a state visit to the UK.
The site went live in in 2007.
Example Headline: F.B.I. to Special-Order a Pair of Tiny Handcuffs
The Borowitz Report is a column within The New Yorker. Written by Andy Borowitz – the same man who created “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” – it takes a sarcastic look at current affairs.
The topics normally revolve around politics, but anything is fair game. Readers can expect three or four new articles every week. The pieces are rarely long, often barely totally more than 400 words, but they’re all well-thought out and sure to raise a laugh when you’ve got a spare five minutes.
8. Faking News
Example Headline: After Nepal Bans India’s New Currency Notes, India to Remove Mount Everest from Geography books
After The UnReal Times made the surprise decision to shut down in late 2016, Faking News has been left as the standout satire news site in India.
As with several other sites on this list, the site presents its content as if it was real news. Given its location, the stories primarily focus on India and its neighbors. But don’t let that put you off reading; it turns out the news in India lends itself perfectly to satire.
Content is available in both English and Hindi.
Example Headline: All Three Million Illegal Immigrant Voters March on Washington
SatireWire was live between 1999 and 2002, then took an eight-year hiatus before returning in 2010.
In its initial three-year run it picked up a hatful of Webby Awards and frequently rivaled The Onion in readership numbers. It ceased operations when the creator left to write a book, and later, work for the BBC.
However, for the last seven years it’s been back, delivering a deluge of satire and fake news articles on a daily basis. It may never again reach the same heights as back in 2002, but it’s well-deserving of a place on this list.
10. The Beaverton
Example Headline: MPs laugh at colleague who once performed manual labor without servant help
I’ll conclude this list with one of Canada’s finest satire sites – The Beaverton.
The site oscillates between satire based on reality and downright comedy. They predictably give politics and current affairs the most attention, but there are also sections for Sport, Business, Celebrities, Lifestyle, and Video.
Its story claiming NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield – who gained fame with his tweets from space – was hit with a $1.3 million roaming bill on his return to earth was widely reported as fact in multiple Asian countries back in 2013.
What Would You Add to This List?
I’ve shown you 10 of my favorite sites for fake news and satire. I’ve tried to introduce you to content in a broad range of styles and from a wide selection of geographical locations.
Now it’s your turn. Where do you go for your daily fix of funny faux news? Which sites deserve to make this list? Which sites wouldn’t you include in your own top 10?
If you want to avoid fake news that’s harmful instead of funny, install a few of these smart news apps to get trustworthy reports. And speaking of fake web content, you might also want to avoid fake ads disguised as fake download links.
Image Credit: Gal Amar via Shutterstock.com