Is Disney really trying to lower the drinking age to 18 on its property?
Disney World is the most famous theme park in the world. Families come for its thrilling rides and delicious food. But could teenagers start lining up for… booze?
A ticket of Mouse Trap News went viral on TikTok after claiming The Walt Disney Co. was seeking a resort exemption to lower the drinking age at its Florida park. But is Disney really trying to get a resort exemption to allow people as young as 18 to drink on their property?
This is how we checked the facts.
Check the evidence
First, I visited the article attached to the viral video to see if I could find any additional information. This is a media literacy tip called “read ahead”. You should always follow the shared links to see the evidence for yourself.
The article of Mouse Trap News says Disney is fighting Florida in court above the minimum drinking age. But the author does not provide any evidence such as sources or court documents.
But more than the lack of evidence for the claim, I noticed that the writing is a bit clunky, there are punctuation errors, and there is no signature on the story. A signature tells the reader who wrote the story, and most legitimate news sites have stories with signatures. This article did not. It made me a little suspicious.
Dive at the source
Then I returned to TikTok. If there’s one little piece of advice that makes a huge difference in sorting fact from fiction online, it’s this: always check the biography. It’s easy to see something, laugh and share it before digging deeper. But with a single click or swipe to a TikToker’s biography, you can tell if something might be real or fake.
Mousetrap News’ bio says, “‼️Real Disney News This is 100% FALSE.” This is the first clue that this is probably a misrepresentation. But the way it’s worded is a little confusing, so I decided to dive a little deeper.
I went to the “About” page of the website. Think of the About page as the biography, but for a news organization. On the About page for a legitimate news source, you should be able to see:
- what kind of news they cover;
- and who or what organization operates the site.
This can help you determine if the news site is biased or completely fake.
Mouse Trap News describes himself as “…the best in the world satire to place. We write fake stories about Disney parks stuff. So, ultimately, the whole Mouse Trap News the site is satirical.
Satire versus misinformation
Satire is misinformation that attempts to make a point, often through humor or exaggeration. This Disney site is just one of many popular satire sites. Some other examples of satire include The Onion, ClickHole, Saturday Night Live and The daily show.
The problem with satire is that it’s up to the reader or viewer to figure it out. Recognizing satire online isn’t always easy. These types of stories become misinformation when people don’t know it’s satire and they share it as fact.
Even professional news organizations can be fooled. The New York Post in 2010 published an article about a Serbian man who accidentally killed a hammerhead shark – with his butt drunk – without realizing it was from a new satirical news site called Njuz.net.
So here are some tips to help you recognize if something you see online might be satire:
- Research the author. Are they real? Do they have know-how?
- Investigate the site itself – read the About page, which will often immediately come out and call the site a satire.
- Finally, if it seems too absurd, too comical, too ridiculous, it could be a satire.
Bottom line, before you share anything online, make sure you know more about the TikTokker or news site.
Not legit. There is no evidence that Disney is fighting the Florida government in court or lobbying to lower the drinking age at their park. There’s a lack of transparency about the author, and finally a quick check of the website’s About page tells us that the story is clearly intended to be satirical.
ATTENTION TEACHERS: This fact check is presented in a free one-hour lesson plan on satire and misinformation. “Lesson plan: how to identify satire before sharing it as misinformation » is available through PBS NewsHour Classroom and includes slides and one handout, among other resources for teachers.