Rumors that people have been paid large amounts of money to protest President-elect Donald Trump might have erupted because of a news story hoax.
According to a news story published by "ABC News" (the site is abcnews.com.co, a satire site that is made to look very real), 37-year-old Paul Horner said: “I was given $3,500 to protest Donald Trump’s rally in Fountain Hills. I answered a Craigslist ad about a group needing actors for a political event. I interviewed with them and got the part.”
But “abcnews.com.co” is not the well-known “abcnews.com.” Instead, it's a website that publishes fake news stories and Paul Horner, rather than being a paid protester, is actually a British man who writes the fake news stories from his home in the U.K.
And the story about the paid protester went viral, causing many people to believe that Trump protesters were really a large group of well-paid operatives funded by wealthy opponents of the president-elect.
"His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything," Horner told The Washington Post in an interview about his fake news website. "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."
Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, tweeted that news story and then deleted it after the hoax was brought to his attention, according to PolitiFact.
Fake news stories going viral on social media, especially Facebook, have been pointed to as a reason for Trump's stunning victory over former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Honestly, people are definitely dumber,” Horner said. “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.”