Following Donald Trump's win, a conversation has emerged about whether or not fake news on Facebook helped swing the election his way. The Washington Post interviewed the man behind many viral fake news stories, 38-year-old Paul Horner.
"I think Trump is in the White House because of me," said Horner, adding that his sites were constantly picked up by Trump supporters. "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."
Horner claims he was trying to make Trump and his supporters look bad. "I thought they'd fact-check it, and it'd make them look worse," Horner told the publication. "Looking back, instead of hurting the campaign, I think I helped it, and that feels [bad]."
The fake news writer said he never thought Trump would win and become president. "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 fancies himself a writer of satire, saying he likes to get lumped in with The Onion. He said he makes $10,000 a month from Google AdSense. He thinks that the "horrible sites" that have "no creativity or purpose" behind them should be washed out by Google and Facebook's new desire to clean up fake news, but he hopes his own sites that have "purpose and meaning" will not be affected.