Did Walmart lose $1.2 billion in one day after banning guns? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to mislead Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators or a liberal from Maine via the ad revenue generated with the content which is probably not what they expected or wanted.
The story originated from an article (archived here) where it was published by BustaTroll.org on September 4, 2019 under the title "Walmart Loses $1.2 Billion In One Day After Banning Guns". It opened:
Less than 24 hours after they announced they would no longer cater to all gun owners in every state no matter what, Walmart has lost more than a billion dollars. According to our experts in the financials department, Art Tubolls, Walmart will continue to lose money as long as they continue pandering to liberals:
"Walmart's stock opened this morning nearly 40 percent lower than it closed yesterday. Add to that the lines of people at Target, Kmart, and other fine rertailers looking to keep away from the freedom-haters at Wally's and we estimate more than a billion a day. Closer to $1.2 billion."
The article was posted under a category named "Revenge Satire to Make Taters Tate" on a page with several prominently visible satire disclaimers and logos. However the story was copied by several foreign-run fake news sites that pretended it was real news.
As you can see in the stock chart for Walmart their shares even rose after the announcement was made:
The satirical story came in response to real media reports about Walmart changing some policies related to open carry of guns and the sale of ammunition among other things:
Walmart will bar shoppers from openly carrying guns in its stores and stop selling some ammunition in response to 2 deadly shootings
Walmart on Tuesday announced changes to its gun-sales policies and asked shoppers to stop openly carrying firearms in its stores nationwide in response to two deadly shootings at Walmart stores in El Paso, Texas, and Southaven, Mississippi.
The "expert" from the financials department quoted in the story ("Art Tubolls") does not exist: the name is just an anagram for "Busta Troll", the nickname of the owner of the website that published the joke article.
The site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run byself-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. Blair has been in a feud with fact checking website Snopes for some time now and has also criticized other fact checkers in the past who labeled his work "fake news" instead of satire. In reaction to this he has recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages so they carry extremely visible disclaimers everywhere.
Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":
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.
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.
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.
Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.
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 bustatroll.org as:
A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about bustatroll.org before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Kathy Griffin Did NOT Announce Run For Senate
- Fake News: Alabama Did NOT Become the First State to Ban 'Radical Islam'
- Fake News: Nancy Pelosi NOT Asked To Leave Children's Benefit After Drunken Outburst
- Fake News: Chris Wallace NOT Fired By Fox News; Did NOT Say 'We Can't Let Him Spread Lies Anymore'
- Fake News: Ilhan Omar's Children NOT Arrested For Starting Church Fire