Welcome to the “post-truth” world.
A “fake-news” writer told The Washington Post in an interview Thursday that he believes the hoax news stories he published on Facebook contributed to Donald Trump’s win.
Writer Paul Horner’s fake news sites, one of which masquerades as ABC News, published hoax content that often went viral on Facebook and even appeared in Google News searches, according to The Post. His faux news portfolio, which includes stories about Amish people committing their vote to Trump and convincing readers that he is the British graffiti artist Banksy, has fooled millions, including Eric Trump.
Horner explained to the Post that he believes people are becoming “dumber” and cited that as one of the reasons Trump, who he said he “hates,” was elected.
“Honestly, people are definitely dumber,” Horner told the Post. “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.”
Because of that, Horner places some blame on himself for getting Trump into the White House, using the example of a story about paid anti-Trump protestors that fooled former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and, most recently, “Never Trump” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).
“My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me,” Horner said. “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.”
He said later in the interview that he “didn’t know” if Trump was elected because of him.
While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to help weed out fake news on the social network, Warner told the Post he hopes that he’s spared, as he said he sees his work as more like the satire published at The Onion.
“There are so many horrible sites out there. I’m glad they’re getting rid of those sites,” he said. “I just hope they don’t get rid of mine, too.”