Debunked: Federal Charges Filed Against Darren Wilson

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In the wake of a Ferguson grand jury decision, a fake article claims that President Obama has filed federal charges against police officer Darren Wilson.

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Debunked

This bit of false reporting was spawned by National Report, an infamous satire site. The brief, fabricated article claims that President Barack Obama has filed federal charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the August 9th shooting death of Michael Brown. A couple false quotations are included in the piece, but much of the remainder of the fictional write-up beyond the headline claim is unrelated material to add length and emotional weight to the piece.

With last night’s grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, a profusion of false satire stories posing as real news is expected.

Related Satire

The following are other satire stories circulating following the Ferguson grand jury verdict:

Huzlers – Lowbrow and oftentimes tasteless satire site Huzlers initially falsely reported that police officer Darren Wilson had been shot and killed hours after the Ferguson grand jury decision. The article has since been removed and now the page simply says, “You got PRANKED!! You have been trolled! Wait 5 seconds and ill take you to our homepage! Share an article!!!” At this time a link to the article still exists on the Huzler’s Twitter account where it received 124 “retweets” and was “favorited” 51 times.

Empire News -Satire site Empire News published a fictional story in which police officer Darren Wilson was shot twice outside of a 7-Eleven store in Ferguson by an angry mob. The fake story then goes on to claim that Wilson had survived and was in stable condition, and that the store was looted just after the shooting.

The Daily Currant – On the other end of the satire spectrum, the sometimes amusing Daily Currant reported that Sarah Palin was quoted as saying, “I’m glad Mr. Ferguson wasn’t indicted” in an interview with Fox News. The satirical quality obviously aimed at an imaginary confusion with “Wilson” and “Ferguson”. The article ends with another false quote from Palin, “My prayers go out to Mr. Ferguson and the entire Ferguson family.”

The Daily Currant – A second Daily Currant story claims that a protester in Ferguson accidentally burned down his own home with a Molotov cocktail while rioting. When the fire department is too occupied with putting out other fires to respond quickly enough, the protester places the blame for his house burning down on the firemen. Again, this is satire.

National Report

Obscured somewhere on the National Report website, likely on a page devoted to legal issues, is a disclaimer clause that identifies the publication as a satire site. While this disclaimer was once easily visible on the site, it has since been hidden, and the only current visible disclaimer claims that the site is not intended for minors.

In the last two years, there has been a rise in popularity of satire sites which publish false news that can appear real to some unwary readers. These sites draw large amounts of internet traffic and income through third party advertisers. Ironically, the traffic attraction is often caused by unsuspecting social media users who transmit the bogus headlines via social media. The end result can be a fake news article that goes viral and misleads millions while the satire site profits.

In late October of 2014, the Washington Post published an article on National Report and one of its head writers. This article is an excellent expose and resource for anyone interested in better understanding the business of fake news.

Conclusion

President Obama has not filed federal charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The article claiming this is a fake piece of news published by satire site National Report.

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