As social media users found new ways to spread disinformation online, one blog found success in October 2015 in part by disguising itself as a local television news outlet.
In true Halloween fashion, “Now 8 News” posted the grisly (made-up) story called “Texas Man Found Eating Teenage Boy in Haunted House Attraction”:
The story read:
TEXAS – Fright junkies discovered more than they bargained for at a haunted house attraction over the weekend, when they stumbled upon what they thought was part of the show. The Fright Night Haunted Dreams attraction in Austin, Texas brought in hundreds of people looking for a good scare this Halloween season. But on Friday night, this “Haunted Dream” maze turned into a reality for one teenage boy.
Eyewitnesses say they were halfway through this macabre haunted house when they came across a scene with a crazy looking man biting into his victim that lay in a dirty bathtub. At first, it was just another scene within the haunted maze, but as they looked closer they saw the young boy that was screaming for his life was really in excruciating pain. For one witness, Paul Callaway, it was much too real. “I don’t think I can put into words what I saw. It will haunt my dreams forever,” said Calloway. “This sick ass man bit into this dude’s arm and I could literally see tendons being pulled out. The screams were unlike anything I had ever heard before. This boy was in some serious pain. I mean imagine being eaten alive!”
Of course, the story was fabricated. But that did not stop users from sharing the post more than 215,000 times. The “haunted house” story has apparently been taken down, but Now8News.com itself is still active and publishing “stories”:
One thing making the site even more insidious is that unlike other “satirical” blogs, Now 8 News has no disclaimer advising reader that its content is fabricated. Instead its “About” section reads:
Now8News.com is on the look for top stories in your area and across the world. We accept viewer submissions so please contact us if you have a story, video or pictures you think are important to report.
Update 10/04/2021, 12:05pm: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here.