November 5, 2019
Angel Laclaustra | MediaWise Teen Fact-Checker

MediaWise rating: LEGIT

Earlier this year, fast food-restaurant employees faced an irate — and armed — group of customers clamoring for the latest food fad.

When Popeyes introduced a chicken sandwich to its menu this summer, social media users buzzed with excitement and glowing reviews rolled in quickly. Soon, news outlets across the country reported shortages of the new sandwich. One article seemed a little too ridiculous to be true. According to a story published in Eater, a group of people in Houston, Texas, stormed the fast food chain with a gun over sold out chicken sandwiches. Could this really be legit? Here’s how we checked it out.

Who’s behind the information?

After Googling Eater, a Wikipedia page popped up. Wikipedia is a good starting point to find out who is behind information or a claim. Eater originally covered the New York City food and nightlife scene after its founding in 2005. Since then, Eater launched a national site and now has around 25 local sites in the United States, Canada and England, according to Wikipedia. Eater is a part of Vox Media, and has been recognized four times by the James Beard Foundation Awards. From this information, it looks like Eater is a credible and trusted site for food journalism.

Read upstream

We then read upstream and followed citations in the original Eater article to further verify claims about a hungry gunman. The article cites a tweet by user Jessica Willey. Looking at Willey’s bio, we can see she’s a verified reporter with Houston’s ABC station. This seems to be the original seed of the information, and Willey is a reputable source.

What are other sources saying?

It’s always good to check out what other sites are saying to confirm a claim or add more context. After a quick keyword search, we found a CNN article. According to the story, the group, who police estimated were under 21 years old, ran out of the restaurant after pulling the gun, then hopped into an SUV and tossed an empty can into the drive-thru window. That’s more context than we found in the Eater article, and CNN confirmed the original claim.

Our rating

Overall, this claim is LEGIT.  When it comes to stories that seem like they could be satirical and too ridiculous to be true, always do a quick search before sharing on social media.

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has…
Alex Mahadevan

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