If you want to know anything about the fake news industry, why not just go straight to the source? It’s what The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey did, interviewing Paul Horner, whom she called the “the OG Facebook news hoaxer,” and a man whom Dewey had interviewed previously about his fake news exploits, in 2014.
Dewey’s first question to Horner, was essentially, why did it work so well?
“Honestly, people are definitely dumber,” he told her. “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.”
Horner said he meant his work as satire, rather than as a purposeful attempt to trick people, but that intent collapsed when people failed to check out the veracity of his work for themselves, as in his story about people being paid to protest Donald Trump:
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].
Read the whole thing here if you think you can resist dwelling on the post-truth sense of nihilism this piece evinces, at least for us.