How do you know a fake news story from a real one? We all thought we used to know. We all now have doubts creep into our minds. This is unfortunate, and it's our world now until we figure out how to solve it.
A recent "news" story has gone viral, a story about a couple struggling to conceive a child whose doctor did testing and supposedly determined they were siblings, twins even, by results of genetic testing and by putting together pieces from the history of their adoptions.
The possibility that this type of situation could happen is real. Closed adoptions and undisclosed use of donor sperm and eggs mean not everyone who is out there dating knows whether they have crossed paths with a genetic relative in their search for a mate.
I retweeted the story when I came across it, and although I posted on Facebook soon after an update that the story was unconfirmed due to no identifiable first-hand sources willing to come forward, I have yet to retract it or say much more until now.
This story cannot be confirmed, because no names have been released. The doctor - if an actual person - has not stepped forward. The couple - if an actual couple - hasn't either.
The source is sketchy. Other news sources found it un-sketchy enough to pick up the story and carry it forward, but should I have followed suit? Is there a right answer to this question?
So here I am today, having possibly been a willing participant in the spread of fake news but unsure. I'm not going to retract the two tweets I sent out linking to the story, because they shed light on situations that actually do arise in the world.
I still stand by a claim I made earlier that genetic testing has and will again suddenly and unexpectedly reveal a couple is closely related. There is precedent to this outside of this viral possibly real/possibly fake story, but no one is willing to step out publicly yet.
So to my readers, I am sorry if I am spreading fake news.
I don't know if the "husband and wife twins" story is fake news or not.
I do know that DNA testing that identifies genetic/familial links between individual is powerful, and powerful in ways that can be devastating. Let's be aware, and let's be sensitive and compassionate when it does happen.