Speed Reads

guilty conscience

The mastermind of fake Facebook news now worries he's why Donald Trump was elected

Paul Horner writes fake Facebook news for a living, and he's pretty sure he's one of the reasons President-elect Donald Trump won the election last week. In an interview with The Washington Post published Thursday, the 38-year-old admitted his tall tales "were picked up by Trump supporters all the time" — and often seemingly without any scrutiny.

"I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don't fact-check anything — they'll post everything, believe anything," Horner said. "His campaign manager [Corey Lewandowski] posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up." Horner said he starting writing these fake stories just to "make fun of that insane belief" that people were being paid to protest Trump — but then, he said, "it took off." With Trump now poised to assume the White House in January, Horner is trying to come to terms with the fact that his scheme backfired bigly:

I thought they'd fact-check it, and it'd make them look worse. I mean that's how this always works: Someone posts something I write, then they find out it's false, then they look like idiots. But Trump supporters — they just keep running with it! They never fact-check anything! Now he's in the White House. Looking back, instead of hurting the campaign, I think I helped it. And that feels [bad]. [Paul Horner, via The Washington Post]

Still, it seems Horner doesn't feel guilty enough to give up his livelihood: He's already talking about ways to get around Facebook and Google's recently announced plans to block fake news sites from generating ad revenue. Right now, Horner said, he's making "like $10,000 a month" from the Google ad placement service, AdSense.

Read the interview in full over at The Washington Post.