Was a club shut down for killing patrons and selling them as meat? And did this happen in Portland, London, San Diego, Port of Spain, Adelaide, Hong Kong, Colombo, Bangkok, Ottawa, Chicago, Omaha, Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Now Orleans, San Antonio, Wilmington, Minneapolis, Phoenix or Nassau (or some other place)? No, that's not true: at least two fake news sites have been pushing identical copies of this story in recent weeks with names and locations changed. It is not real.
One copy of the story that went viral was an article published by City News in early June, 2019 titled "BREAKING NEWS: Portland club shut down for killing patrons and selling as meat - Oregon Latest News" (archived here) which opened:
The Oregon State Police has shut down a nightclub, Afro 44 Nightclub, in the city of Portland, Oregon, after investigation uncovered that the owner killed patrons of the facility and served to others as meat.
The Police said in a statement that they acted swiftly upon tip-off and a search at the club revealed human parts kept in deep freezers.
The Afro 44 Nightclub, foreign-owned, started operating in February 2019.
The statement added that the owner of the facility has been arrested and other three people believed to be accomplices are at large.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
BREAKING NEWS: Portland club shut down for killing patrons and selling as meat - Oregon Latest News
The Oregon State Police has shut down a nightclub, Afro 44 Nightclub, in the city of Portland, Oregon, after investigation uncovered that the owner killed patrons of the facility and served to others as meat. The Police said in a statement that they acted swiftly upon tip-off and a search at the club revealed human ...
However no local media reported on the story and the image used to illustrate the story (a severed human foot) actually came from a 2012 CNN report about a fake human meat market that was set up to promote a horror video game:
The makers of Resident Evil 6 created a fake human meat market in London. All of the products were made of pork.
The websites pushing the story strongly resemble sites from a Ghana-based fake news network Lead Stories exposed in April 2018:
Global Fake News Network Responsible For Dozens of Death Hoaxes Shuts Down After Ghana Connections Revealed | Lead Stories
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. On April 17, 2018 former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away but a full day earlier an article prematurely announcing her death from a website pretending to be CNN managed to rack up a combined 2.3 million likes, shares and comments on Facebook.
Right now Lead Stories suspects following sites are part of the "new" network:
These sites all engage in behaviour that is very similar to sites in the old network:
- Repeating the same story with locations/names changed.
- Using dashes, "news", "tv" or "radio" in domain names.
- Promoting death hoaxes (the same sites published multiple fake death stories all set in Toronto, Canada recently).
- Using the MGID ad network for monetization.
- Filling their front pages with "real" news copied from other sites.
- Spreading links to the hoax stories through fake Facebook profiles on various local and buy-and-sell Facebook groups/pages.
By itself each of these individual methods is not enough to make the connection. But all of them taken together strongly suggest it is the same person or persons. Don't fall for stories like these!