"Cracker Barrel coming to Lacey", touts the headline on a website with a somewhat convincing sounding news channel name. There's only one problem, it's not true.

This is the very definition of fake news.

The story, with a byline for someone identified as a "News 23 Reporter", goes on to say that the popular chain will be setting up shop near the Walmart on Route 9 in Lanoka Harbor.

It includes quotes from alleged developers, calls out official sounding township departments, and name checks a number of actual new businesses going up nearby.

Whenever we ask for your wish lists of businesses that aren't in Ocean County yet, Cracker Barrel is always a popular request, so it's easy to see how many would get duped by this "story" (I put that in quotes, because I'm using the term loosely).

The website, which I won't even give the visibility offered by linking to it, has a tiny disclaimer in a minuscule font at the very bottom of the page, well below a huge "Share on Facebook" button, that starts by saying:

We do NOT support FAKE NEWS!!! This is a Prank website that is intended for Fun...

But here's the thing - this is the very definition of fake news. It's an article headlined and written in a manner intended to make people believe something that isn't even remotely true.

A prank is like when Google changed their Maps website into a huge game of Pac-Man.

Presenting something as true, on a website with a name that could easily be believed to be a news outlet, with a tiny, passing disclaimer where nobody will see it, isn't a prank. I'll say it again - it's fake news. Plain and simple.

So, sadly, Ocean County, we will not be getting a Cracker Barrel anytime soon. And if you see this story being passed around on social media, you'll know that it's nothing more than a shameless lie.

 

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