US Election 2016

Denzel Washington hit by Facebook fake news story on Trump

Denzel Washington

A fabricated news story claiming Hollywood actor Denzel Washington had praised US President-elect Donald Trump is being shared widely on Facebook.

The post from Facebook page American News has been shared more than 22,000 times since Monday.

It claims Mr Washington praised Mr Trump, saying: "We need more and more jobs.

"He has hired more employees, more people, than anyone I know in the world."

The story also claims Mr Washington called President Barack Obama "anti-Christian".

Mr Washington's publicist Alan Nierob told BBC News: "The story is 100% complete fabrication."

Image copyright Facebook

But some Facebook users have been fooled.

One, Anita Ward, said on Facebook: "Kudos to Denzel.

"We need to be a united country not divided, after all it is called United States of America.

"In the name of Jesus, stand up for America and come together, love one another and work together."

Another posted: "He has been my favourite actor for a very long time. Knew there was something special about him. God is his saviour. Thank you, Denzel!"

Image copyright Reuters

The prevalence of fake news on Facebook has become a hot issue in the wake of the US election.

And Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg responded to these concerns in a post on Saturday night.

"Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes," he said.

"The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics."

But it appears not all Mr Zuckerberg's own employees were satisfied with his response, as Buzzfeed news has reported that some have set up an unofficial task force to deal with the problem.


Things to ask yourself before you share a claim

  • Have I heard of the publisher before?
  • Is this the source I think it is?
  • Has this been reported anywhere else?
  • Is there more than one piece of evidence for this claim?

Who is American News?

American News has more than five million likes on Facebook.

It specialises in emotive right-wing stories.

The articles it shares on Facebook link back to its website, which contains no information about the people who write and publish the stories.

The domain registration uses a privacy service to keep the owner's identity a secret.

The BBC messaged American News for comment but has had no response.


Where did this story come from?

Characteristically for stories of this type, American News was not the first to publish it.

Instead, it took it from other similar websites.

As reported by Snopes - one of the internet's oldest debunking sites - a site called ANews24 published the false claim about Mr Washington back in August.

Snopes points out the words about Donald Trump attributed to Mr Washington are originally from an interview in the New York Post with civil rights activist Charles Evers.

Mr Evers, 93, endorsed Mr Trump in that interview, saying: "We need more and more jobs.

"Unemployment is way up here.

"He has hired more employees, more people, than anyone I know in the world."


How to spot a fake US election claim

by Patrick Evans, UGC & Social News team