The morgue assistant’s meatballs at the southern Illinois cook-off aren’t made from male body parts, sheriff says

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Relax, the meatballs in Carterville are safe. According to the Williamson County Sheriff, they definitely contain no human body parts.

After a viral satirical article falsely said a morgue assistant used male meat to win a spaghetti cook-off in Carterville, Williamson County Sheriff Bennie Vick’s office declared “fake news.”

Readers shouldn’t have to search too hard to find the lie for themselves, the sheriff’s office noted.

“The fake news was on a fake news website,” Vick’s office said in a Wednesday press release. “The headline of this fake news website says, ‘News you can count on to disappoint you.’ “

You have to hope that readers could have spotted cheating even if they hadn’t seen the site’s confession banner.

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The imaginative piece claims that a woman from Carterville could never have done better than second place in the cooking competition. To get herself over the hump and take home the top prize, the morgue worker collected the testicles of dead men and used them in her meatball dish, the fake article said.

Her secret ingredient was discovered when a judge, going back for a third serving, bit down on a prosthesis, the fake article continued.

The totally fake piece appeared in late July on KVTA4, a website that describes itself as a “made-up satirical newspaper and comedy website”, but which is also designed to look like a news website. Facebook users have replied to, commented or shared the fake article more than 300,000 times, according to CrowdTangle, a tool to analyze interactions on the social network.

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Some Facebook users didn’t seem to notice that the article was fake.

“That might be the most disgusting thing I’ve ever read,” wrote one user.

“What the hell is wrong with people,” wrote another usage in capital letters.

“The world has gone mad. There are more to come,” said another.

The article has been rewritten and posted on other malicious or satirical websites that share made-up stories but pretend to be real news outlets. Fact-checker Snopes labeled the piece as satire.

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The fake article showed a photo of an apparently arrested woman, who, according to the site, was the daring chef.

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“These kinds of satirical articles about morgues usually use real police photos for their fictional stories,” wrote Snopes reporter Jordan Liles.

The sheriff’s office used the dissemination of the fake article to provide tips on tracking down misinformation.

Readers can identify “fake news” by searching sources, paying particular attention to a suspicious site’s contact page, “about” page or an article’s URL, the sheriff wrote. They can also check to see if other sites are reporting the story and should watch out for sloppy writing, the sheriff’s office said.

While readers can identify misinformation, they won’t be able to identify who has the best spaghetti in the small southern Illinois town: The fake article didn’t say who won the cooking competition.

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Twitter @jakesheridan_

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