One of the more insidious factors in the spread of online disinformation has been the advent of “satirical” blogs that spread or republish each other’s content, among them World News Daily Report.
As Buzzfeed reported, the blog was responsible for nine of the 50 most-read fake stories of 2018, including two of the top three.
In that light, a WNDR post about “73-year old Arnold White” recycles the site’s formula: an outlandish accusation alongside a misappropriated mugshot of a real person. In this case, WNDR states that White “confessed to kidnapping and sexually assaulting several dozen people while using costumes, drugs, and special effects to have his victims believe they had been abducted by aliens.”
The story continued:
Originally interrogated about 4 crimes committed in the region in the 1990s, the retired trucker confessed a total of 79 kidnappings across California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas over a period of 40 years.
Mr. White confessed to using a mix of hallucinatory drugs containing LSD and PCP to subdue his victims, before approaching them and carrying them inside his truck to assault them.
As is customary, the post was spread verbatim on other spurious blogs without the inclusion of WNDR’s disclaimer:
World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.
Regardless of its intention, the story spread to the point that an El Paso radio station, KISS-FM, published its own post on its website reminding readers that it was fake.
“Now, El Paso isn’t perfect and we have our own weirdos, but this weirdo doesn’t belong to us,” the station wrote.