As the Republican administration and its Twitter egg-avatar boosters continue to develop a rare strain of Tourette’s that causes the victim to scream/type “FAKE NEWS!” any time a legitimate news operation reports a critical story (a devaluing of the term that we saw coming a mile away), a Hollywood studio has seen fake news for what it ultimately is: a way to make money and promote #content. Buzzfeed broke the story of how the distributors of the forthcoming Gore Verbinski film A Cure For Wellness used a network of fake news sites to raise awareness of the film, and in the process spread hoax stories with only tenable connection to it that (shocker, you may need to sit down) gullible morons online took as real.
“At the core of the campaign is a network of five fake local news sites that are inserting promotional references to the film into hoaxes,” according to Buzzfeed. Those five sites – Sacramento Dispatch, Salt Lake City Guardian, Houston Leader, NY Morning Post, and Indianapolis Gazette – interspersed stories related to Cure (“PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER SCREENING LEABES SALT LAKE CITY MAN IN CATATONIC STATE”) and fake ads for a water product connected to it with items about President Trump imposing a temporary ban on vaccinations (quickly picked up and promoted as fact by anti-vaxxers), a Muslim tribute during Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show (a big item among conservatives on Facebook and right-wing blogs), and stories about Trump denying federal funds to California and the AMA coining “Trump Depression Disorder” for Americans dealing with post-election depression and anxiety (quickly shared by liberal readers). All of those items are false.
The five sites redirected their URLs to the official Cure for Wellness site shortly after Buzzfeed published its story; the individual links are currently 404s. The richest irony is the studio releasing A Cure For Wellness: Fox, which is getting more shit for these dumb websites than they have for 20 years of laying the ground work for “fake news” on their cable news network.