5 of Facebook’s worst fake news stories this year

By Kitty Knowles 15 November 2016

Facebook's blocked fake news - but the horse has already bolted.

Facebook has just followed Google in explicitly blocking fake news – those misleading stories that lull you into believing the ludicrous.

We’re not talking about funny satire sites like The Onion, but knowingly fake or hoax websites that prey on the gullible with false facts.

But, we ask Mark Zuckerberg, isn’t it a case of too little, too late?

In a year framed by divide – by Brexit, and now Donald Trump’s Presidential win – Facebook has already allowed shoddy outlets to curb our opinions.

This is especially dangerous in our online echo chambers, where we can like, comment and share at pace, to within minutes boost a story before the eyes of millions.

The worst election lies

Now this list is hardly a definitive list, but just a selection of the type fake viral news stories that ‘informed’ voters throughout the US election.

Reading them should serve to remind us that while horse has bolted, it’s firmly time to shut the door.

When the Pope ‘supported’ Donald Trump

In a country where more than 20% of people identify as Catholic, you can’t get a bigger endorsement than this.

Except that the story was completely fabricated by WTOE 5 News.

The piece included a dreamt up statement from the Pope , which not only called Hillary Clinton a corrupt lawbreaker, but shared an invented his plea from the religious pontiff:

“I ask, not as the Holy Father, but as a concerned citizen of the world that Americans vote for Donald Trump.”

Is the Pope a Catholic? Yes. An avid Trump supporter? No.

When Denzel Washington backed Donald Trump

It’s difficult to see how anyone can overlook Trumps rhetoric against minorities. But in the US – where the rate of black unemployment is double that of white –  you can always promise people what they desperately need: jobs.

And what better mouthpiece to seize than an esteemed American actor, filmmaker, director, and producer who just happens to also be black.

“We need more and more jobs,” Denzel Washington never told the right-wing outlet American News.

“He’s hired more employees, more people, than anyone I know in the world.”

That time Hillary Clinton murdered people

Hillary Clinton is far from perfect, but falsely reporting the Presidential candidate to be a murderer is a pretty low-blow.

“FBI agent suspected in Hillary email leaks found dead in apparent murder-suicide,” peddled the Denver Guardian.

Talk about killing someone’s reputation.

When it turned out protesting was a paid gig

The sneaky folks over at do worryingly convincing job of impersonating ABC News.

This makes the fake news website even more dangerous.

As such, when a hoax story headlined “Donald Trump Protester Speaks Out: ‘I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump’s Rally’” it spread like wildfire.

It even fooled Trump’s son Eric Trump, who tweeted it with the statement: “Finally, the truth comes out.”

Because no one really, genuinely, actually, didn’t like the idea of President Donald, right? They were all in it for the money.

When “ten of thousands” of fraudulent ballots were uncovered

The Christian Times Newspaper (CTN) web site published an article reporting that “tens of thousands” of pre-marked ballots cast for Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates had been discovered stored in an Ohio warehouse.

Nope. In fact the picture of the evidence was actually taken in 2015 in Birmingham, in the UK.

The copycat newspaper has also invented and promoted conspiracy theories, including false stories reporting that Donald Trump was removed from primary ballots, that Clinton said “Harambe” was a victim of racism, that an African-American Trump supporter was killed in Chicago, and that the 4th of July had been cancelled due to fears of terrorism. Joy.

Read more: What are President-elect Donald Trump’s tech policies?

Read more: You can block Donald Trump from your Facebook – tempted?

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