Did the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency arrest an undocumented citizen working at California's drivers' license facility who illegally registered thousands of voters? No, that's not true: This claim was published on a satire site and copied and republished by others sites who failed to note the satirical nature of the original. This did not happen. ICE made no such raid, and no such person was arrested.
The claim originated from an article published by Daily World Update on February 16, 2020, titled "Caught By I.C.E. - Illegal DMV Employee Who Registered Thousands of 'Voters'" (archived here) which opened:
It certainly seems like President Trump's most recent I.C.E. push has started off with a bang - one that may effect California's voter rolls. The agency has confirmed that an undocumented citizen was arrested this morning leaving her workplace, an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles. According to preliminary interrogators, Maria Alonso Esteban Papasfritas has already registered thousands of applicants to vote in the primaries and 2020 general election.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Caught By I.C.E. - Illegal DMV Employee Who Registered Thousands of 'Voters'
The undocumented woman had been in the US for six years. Six.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalists to rank the reliability of websites, describes dailyworldupdate.us as:
A news site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news. The site is part of a network run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.
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 wearethellod.com, bustatroll.org or bebest.website. 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 that 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.
Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018 by Eli Saslow:
'Nothing on this page is real': How lies become truth in online America
November 17 The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories
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.
According to NewsGuard, the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about dailyworldupdate.us before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Trump Did NOT Invoke Article 9 To Begin Prosecution Of Democrats For Treason
- Fake News: Malia Obama NOT Busted Selling Priceless White House Trinkets
- Fake News: Clarence Thomas Did NOT Say SCOTUS Is Ready To 'Crush The Coup Against President Trump'
- Fake News: Justice Roberts Does NOT Call Impeachment Vote 'Immoral And Possibly Illegal'
- Fake News: Nancy Pelosi Did NOT Approve $4.8 Million In 'Impeachment Consulting Fees' To Clinton Foundation