Are armed militia volunteers heading to hurricane areas to protect them from looters? No, that's not true and the call for volunteers in the satirical story the rumor originated from might actually endanger people. The "news" was published by a liberal satire website that aims to fool Trump supporters and conservatives into liking and sharing fake news so fans of the site can then mock them. In this case however there is a real danger somebody might get hurt, so please, if you see anyone sharing this story let them know it is fiction.
The story originated from an article published by America's Last Line of Defense on September 12, 2018 titled "UPDATE Patriot Volunteers Arrive To Guard Hurricane Areas From Looting Thugs" (archived here) which opened:
What do you think of when you hear the word "hurricane?" To most, they hear "danger -- get the hell out!" Some even go to immediate concern for their neighbors and their fellow man. For those of who know better, we think "I need to save my belongings." And the word hurricane brings with it, first and foremost, the threat of looters.
The men who have shown up say they will take cover in their armored vehicles or in foxholes they've been digging for the past two days, ahead of where the most damage and highest risk of looters will occur. They are fully armed and willing to risk their lives for their fellow Americans.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail so it is not inconceivable some people thought it was real:
These brave men joined hundreds of others to weather the storm and protect the aftermath from thugs.
Articles from the site are frequently copied by other sites that omit all the satire disclaimers and hints the story is fake, so if they saw it there instead of on the original site the chance of them believing it would be greater.
The article calls for volunteers to dig in at the beaches where the hurricane would strike:
Our militia expert found that taking the beach to cover the mainland was unconventional, but that it would be effective if more people would show up: "If we could get a whole bunch more patriots to come out and line the beaches ahead of this storm, America will be a safer place."
Suffice to say that is a really bad idea in hurricane-force winds and with incoming tides.
The site comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.
The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites, including potatriotpost.us, dailyworldupdate.us and nofakenewsonline.us. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.
Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.
If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes trumpbetrayed.us as:
A website claiming to be satirical that publishes fabricated stories, run by Christopher Blair, a known purveyor of disinformation, that published fake stories about Senator John McCain after he passed away.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about trumpbetrayed.us before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: 5,000 People Did NOT Dump Shoes In Front Of Nike Headquarters
- Fake News: Nike Did NOT Fire Colin Kaepernick After Arrest (Which Did NOT Happen Either)
- Fake News: Benghazi Wife Did NOT File Wrongful Death Suit Against Clinton
- Fake News: President Trump NOT To Receive Golden Star of David In Jerusalem
- Fake News: Nike Did NOT Lay Off 13,000 Employees In Wake Of Kaepernick Disaster