During the 2016 presidential election cycle, Facebook was notoriously accused of being unable to stop the spread of fake news. The firm came under attack by press and activists alike who felt that it simply was not doing enough to stop the proliferation of misinformation.
"Our investigation shows that Facebook’s measures have largely failed to reduce the spread of viral disinformation on the platform. To the contrary, they might have even allowed it to grow: one year before Election Day, the most viral fake news about U.S. politics were able to reach more users than what was reported from three to six months preceding the 2016 elections," wrote Avaaz in their report.
The non-profit also outlined the top fake news stories of 2019 by number of estimated views. Here they are:
10. Joe Biden Calls Trump Supporters 'Dregs of Society'
This fake news had 4,495,064.48 estimated views and 252,158 interactions. However, Biden never said such a thing. Instead, in a speech to the annual Human Rights Campaign dinner, he spoke of "forces of intolerance" who "remain determined to undermine and roll back the progress" as the "dregs of society." There is no evidence to suggest he was referring to Trump supporters.
9. NYC coroner who declared the death of Jeffrey Epstein a suicide made half a million dollars a year working for the Clinton Foundation until 2015
This outlandish piece of information had 5,351,425.98 estimated views and 300,197 interactions. However, Truthorfiction.com showed it as "not true." Snopes.com further tagged the story as "labeled satire." "This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events," revealed Snopes.com. It originated on a website that is satirical in nature.
8. Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website, a quote by Tim Allen
This supposed quote by actor Tim Allen on Obamacare had 5,728,560.89 views and 321,353 interactions. But did he ever say it? Truthorfiction.com flagged the story as "not true." Snopes.com also flagged it as false. The fact checking site says the quote has been around since at least January 2019 but it was not attributed to Tim Allen till later. It was posted by Eric Trump in September of 2019.
7. Dems Vote To Enhance Med Care for Illegals Now, Vote Down Vets Waiting 10 Years for Same Service
This fake news had 8,069,200.32 estimated views and 452,655. However, Snopes.com showed it as mostly false. The site said that democrats did "vote for a bill that would create an electronic health record (EHR) system related to immigrants detained along the U.S.-Mexico border." However, democrats did not vote down any proposal to give veterans the same EHR. That system is already in place.
6. BREAKING: Nancy Pelosi’s Son Was Exec At Gas Company That Did Business In Ukraine
This piece had 8,562,171.05 estimated views and 480,309 interactions. Snopes.com flagged it as false. The accusation stem from the fact that Pelosi Jr, was associated with NRGlab, a company that allegedly did business in the Ukraine. However, Snopes.com revealed he did not work for the company during that time.
5. Omar Holding Secret Fundraisers With Islamic Groups Tied to Terror
This fake news had 9,327,885.40 estimated views and 523,263 interactions. Snopes.com, however, flagged it as false. "Omar in February and March of 2019 attended two fundraising events that were not open to the news media (one for charity and one for her reelection campaign), the events were not secret, nor were they hosted by groups tied to terror," reported the fact-checking website.
4. Trump Is Now Trying To Get Mike Pence Impeached
This article had 10,888,995.03 estimated views and 610,836 interactions. However, there is absolutely no proof to support it. Although Trump tried to rope Pence into the Ukraine scandal in a speech, he never sought to have him impeached.
3. Ocasio-Cortez Proposes Nationwide Motorcycle Ban
This fake news had 12,380,492.64 and 694,504 interactions. The news, however, has been tagged as false by snopes.com. "This claim about a nationwide motorcycle ban is a fabricated one that originated solely with the “Taters Gonna Tate website, which is part of the America’s Last Line of Defense (LLOD) network of junk news sites that promulgate political misinformation under the guise of proffering satire," reported Snope.com
2. Pelosi Diverts $2.4 Billion From Social Security To Cover Impeachment Costs
This piece of news had an estimated 24,606,644.49 and 1,380,350 interactions. The truth is however that there is absolutely no evidence of Pelosi diverting funds at all. Snopes.com has it labeled as satire. "The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature," reported Snopes.com.
1. Trump’s grandfather was a pimp and tax evader; his father a member of the KKK
This was the most viewed of all the fake news with an outstanding 29,202,552.80 estimated views and 1,638,165 interactions. The story has been debunked like all the rest although there is the possibility that the elder Trump's businesses hosted prostitution, according to biographer Gwenda Blair author of "Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire". Still, the biographer emphasized that she would not call the elder Trump a pimp.
Regarding the pimp story, Snopes.com has labeled it as mostly false. "While there is anecdotal evidence that Trump dabbled in prostitution, there is no proof that this made up the bulk of his fortune," states Snopes.com.