In a week that saw post-truth anointed word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, the media – mainstream and social – were full of news about fake news. Facebook was put on the defensive for allowing “misinformation” about the U.S. presidential election to spread throughout its social network. Google announced it would bar fake-news purveyors from using AdSense, its online advertising service. Paul Horner, the fake-news impresario who invented the “Amish community supports Trump” story (and many others), told the Washington Post he considered his work to be “satire.” He estimated he was earning $10,000 a month for his efforts, considerably more than the average real-news reporter. Five days before the election, BuzzFeed broke a story about teenagers in a single Macedonian town, population 45,000, who had created as many as 140 fake-news websites with American-sounding names like “TrumpVision365.com.” “Most of the posts on these sites are aggregated, or completely plagiarized, from fringe and right-wing sites in the US,” writes BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman. “The Macedonians see a story elsewhere, write a sensationalized headline, and quickly post it to their site. Then they share it on Facebook to try and generate traffic.”
It’s a depressing picture of greed and gullibility. But let’s focus on facts: What’s the authentic story of fake?
Fake news debunked by Hoax-Slayer.