You can’t always trust what you read on Facebook. Not everyone sees past the headlines and not everyone clicks and reads the full story before sharing or blurting out their opinions.
To make matters worse, there are satire sites like The Onion, Weekly World News and National Report. They’ve been known to trick one or two people every now and again. Next, throw in prank sites like URL Online and prank.link and you’re in for more than you bargained for. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The latest prank site to join the ranks is called Clone Zone and just this week, a fake story created by the site went viral and had convinced thousands that Senator Elizabeth Warren had officially endorsed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The headline was “Warren Endorses Sanders, Breaking With Colleagues.”
Much like the site’s name implies, the Clone Zone fake story copied the New York Times, from the masthead all the way down to the fonts used. Most impressive, and most deceiving, it even uses a similar URL to the real one. In the case of the Warren/Sanders story the URL was www.nytimes.com.8i69.clonezone.link.
That kind of detail just goes to show how Clone Zone is quite good at what it does. The fake sites are very realistic and it’s easy to see how someone could fall for it.
On top of that, anyone can use it. And to make matters worse, anyone can share it. The fake Sanders/Warren article had generated more than 50,000 views and 15,000 shares on Facebook. That’s so much traffic that Clone Zone was issued a cease and desist letter and was forced to take the article down, but not before it was immortalized on several blogs and forums across the Internet.
If you want to check the site out for yourself, head to Clone Zone and see the templates they have – from Fox News to NPR to create your own fake story and see if you can fool your friends. Just choose your template, create your story, add photos, make edits, then share.
Or you can browse through some of the older, fake articles created over time, such as singer Rhianna’s secret wedding to rapper Drake in Barbados, or “President Obama Imagines What Seinfeld Would Be Like Today.”