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nytimes.com.co is not the New York Times: Today in fake news

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A fake news story, widely shared on Facebook, by "nytimes.com.co"

A fake news story, widely shared on Facebook, by “nytimes.com.co”

Over the weekend, I read that Sarah Palin has called for the impeachment of the Supreme Court, that Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus is divorcing her, that Scott Walker has challenged the Supreme Court to a fistfight and that Pope Francis has removed the Confederate Flag from the Vatican.

Wild stories? Sure. But they all come from the NY Times.

Actually, no they don’t: These stories all fake. And they all appeared, and went viral, on Facebook, under the URL nytimes.com.co, which adds two letters to the address of actual New York Times (www.nytimes.com.) Even more strangely, every one of these stories is re-produced in full from National Report, one of the worst of the burgeoning coterie of “fake news” sites, which produce untrue stories that aren’t exactly satire- because they’re never, ever funny- but rather fake headlines for the purposes of clickbait and empty social shares.

It’s unclear whether the fake Times site and National Report are the product of the same people, or that it’s one fake site piggybacking on the other. It’s indisputable, however, that Facebook has been cracking down on fake news sites in recent months, and the fake Times URL is one way around that.

At any rate, I hope Facebook gets wise to this scheme and uses its algorithm to knock these fraudsters down. And perhaps they’ll be hearing from the New York Times’ attorneys, too.

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