Monday, November 28, 2016

Lying clickbait part of fake news trend

The issue of fake news being disseminated on Facebook and elsewhere online has been a major topic of conversation since the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump as president.
But false information online is nothing new.
For example, Snopes.com was created in 1995 as a resource to validate or debunk items being circulated through viral email, internet rumors and other means.
Now people are creating fake news websites that use clickbait headlines on social media to drive online traffic and generate advertising revenue.
Similar to this, content distribution services like Taboola, Revcontent and Outbrain often use deceptive photos and headlines with sponsored links. I’ve been documenting this fraudulent activity for some time.
Here are some more recent examples.
Taboola recently shared a sponsored link to an article titled “The worst people to have ever walked our Earth.” It featured a photo of a menacing man in a fascist military uniform.
But the photo is of late actor Raul Julia portraying a villain in the movie “Street Fighter” (1994), not a real character.



Another article titled “A 72-year-old woman can’t believe her 4-day transformation.” It used a photo of supermodel Heidi Klum when she wore makeup to portray an old lady for Halloween in 2013. (Hat tip to Ella ‏@ellagb1675 on Twitter.)



In my reporting on lying clickbait, I’ve come across many examples of content promotion services trying to pass off movie stills as non-fiction.
Here are a few examples.
Taboola sponsored a link to an article titled “Vintage circus freaks that will give you nightmares.” The promoted article includes a photo of actress Olga Baclanova in makeup as a character from the 1932 horror movie “Freaks.”



Another Taboola sponsored link, possibly to the same article, was titled “70 outrageous circus freaks from the past.” It used digital artwork by Jeffery Scott called “A Modern Day Sagittarian.”



An article titled “Camera found in iceberg that sank the Titanic with film still inside” used a photo from the 1997 movie “Titanic.” A similar article used a photo from the 1943 movie “Titanic.”



Here are a few more examples that I’ve previously noted.
“Goodbye Melissa – You will be missed” implies that actress Melissa McCarthy is dead. She’s not.


The article titled “The longest celebrity marriages of all time” uses a photo of actors Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood from the movie “Brainstorm” (1983). The two were never married in real life.


And the article titled “After losing 200 lbs. Rebel Wilson is actually gorgeous!” uses a Photoshopped picture of Wilson. She never lost that kind of weight.


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