According to a just-released study, ultra conservatives over the age of 65 were more likely to share a “news” story on social media claiming Hillary Clinton and Osama bin Laden’s secret love child planned to lead a horde of Islamic terrorists across the southern border in an effort to join with the deep state and overthrow the government than most anyone else not ultra conservative or under the age of 65.

Let’s be clear here: I am not saying this. A just-released study that I did not participate in is saying this.

I realize most of the people reading this in an actual newspaper are over the age of 65 and many identify as conservative and some are so steamed right now they are firing up the email machine, taking pen to paper or preparing to send an angry telegram as a “concerned citizen sick of the liberal left-wing media.”

Again, I am just the messenger here, a whippersnapper in his mid-50s trying to inform and entertain in a dying industry and doing neither one very well if today’s email with the subject line reading “Hey you #$%$! bonehead” is any indication.

If you are an offended and angry ultra conservative senior citizen, I ask that you channel that anger not toward me but to a publication called Science Advances and its article titled “Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook.”

The study’s authors examined “the individual-level characteristics associated with sharing false articles during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign” and linked respondents’ sharing activity to recorded Facebook data.

While the study concluded that sharing fake news was a relatively “rare activity,” the following is from the abstract (again, this is not me saying it, it’s those dagnabbed egghead leftist academics saying it): “Conservatives were more likely to share articles from fake news domains…We also find a strong age effect, which persists after controlling for partisanship and ideology: On average, users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as the youngest age group.”

I know what many who are still reading at this point are thinking: ““Hey you #$%$! bonehead, how can we tell if it is fake or not before we share it?”

Here are some tips from a Harvard University news story headlined “4 Tips for Spotting a Fake News story” along with my further explanations.

Vet the publisher’s credibility. In other words, realize there is a difference between washingtonpost.com and troll.ru.foolyou.com. One will offer insight into a candidate’s voting record, the other will insist the candidate wants to institute Sharia law and make kneeling at NFL games mandatory.

Pay attention to quality and timeliness. If a story leads with OBUMMER WANTS TO STEEL YOU’RE GUNS, it isn’t real.

Check the sources and citations. “If you notice a glaring lack of quotes and contributing sources, particularly on a complex issue, then something is amiss,” writes the Harvard article’s author, Christina Nagler. “Credible journalism is fed by fact-gathering, so a lack of research likely means a lack of fact-based information.”

Notice how I used a source and citation, there? I’m catching on to this journalism stuff.

Ask the pros. As Nagler points out, FactCheck.org, Politifact.com and (my favorite) Snopes.com are trusted, reliable sources for those who live in the real world.

Again, if you are an offended and angry ultra conservative senior citizen who did not like this article in today’s newspaper about some ultra conservative senior citizens sharing fake news at a rate seven times greater than everyone else, please remember I am simply the messenger here.

Direct your angry tirades toward those who deserve them—those dagnabbed egghead leftist academics who are helping cover up the news that Hillary Clinton and Osama bin Laden’s secret love child planned to lead a horde of Islamic terrorists across the southern border in an effort to join with the deep state and overthrow the government.

It must be true because I read it on the internet.

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Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.