|Screen capture of Corey Lewandowski tweeting fake news story by Paul Horner|
Following Donald Trump's win, fake news on Facebook and other social media has become a hot topic.
Many news outlets have done research and concluded that fake clickbait headlines grabbed users more often than real headlines, after analyzing the last three months of campaign coverage.
The Washington Post interviewed the man behind many viral fake news stories, 38-year-old Paul Horner.
Some excerpts from Horner about how and why his stories became viral sensations:
"Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.
"My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.
"Just ’cause his supporters were under the belief that people were getting paid to protest at their rallies, and that’s just insane. I’ve gone to Trump protests — trust me, no one needs to get paid to protest Trump. I just wanted to make fun of that insane belief, but it took off. They actually believed it.
"I thought they’d fact-check it, and it’d make them look worse. I mean that’s how this always works: Someone posts something I write, then they find out it’s false, then they look like idiots. But Trump supporters — they just keep running with it! They never fact-check anything! Now he’s in the White House. Looking back, instead of hurting the campaign, I think I helped it. And that feels [bad].
"I didn’t think it was possible for him to get elected president. I thought I was messing with the campaign, maybe I wasn’t messing them up as much as I wanted — but I never thought he’d actually get elected. I didn’t even think about it. In hindsight, everyone should’ve seen this coming — everyone assumed Hillary [Clinton] would just get in. But she didn’t, and Trump is president."
Horner also told WaPo that he's learned that it doesn't pay to satirize Democrats. "No joke - in doing this for six years, the people who clicked ads the most, like it’s the cure for cancer, is right-wing Republicans. They don't fact check.”