James McDaniel created a fake news website in February just for fun. In less than two weeks, UndergroundNewsReport.com had garnered more than 1 million page views and hundreds of dollars in advertising revenue.
McDaniel, a 28-year-old Florida native now living in Costa Rica, told PolitiFact that he plans to donate the $615 in ad revenue to the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
The left-leaning PolitiFact — which became part of Facebook’s “fact checking” team tasked to label “fake news” stories as they appear on the social media platform — uncovered McDaniel’s website while flagging fake news.
UndergroundNewsReport.com ran wild headlines like: “Bombshell: WikiLeaks leaks ‘lost’ Clinton email“, “Obama tweet: Trump must be removed, by any means necessary“, and “Whoopi Goldberg: Navy SEAL Widow was ‘Looking for Attention.’”
McDaniel said that while he placed a warning on the website alerting readers that the news there was fake, he said most people were “willfully ignorant.”
Following harsh reaction to the story about Whoopi Goldberg and the Navy SEAL widow, McDaniel said is when the “fun” for him had stopped.
“I might have carried on a bit longer because I was having fun,” McDaniel said, “but people took the Whoopi Goldberg story so seriously and it had gotten so big I thought I had better pull the plug.”
UndergroundNewsReport.com is still active. While his fake news-posting days are over, McDaniel said he wants to keep the website up as a “relic.”
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