CHARLOTTE, NC -- A ‘fake news’ article claiming Cleveland Facebook killer suspect Steve Stephens was heading toward Charlotte made the rounds on social media Tuesday.
But turns out, it came from a website that allows people to create fake articles to prank friends.
“At first it freaked me out,” one Charlotte woman said. “I told my coworkers because we had just been talking about it. I believed it for a second.”
The article caused people to panic and it was shared hundreds of times on social media.
NBC Charlotte’s Verify team looked into it, and discovered the article was made with a fake news generator.
Anyone can plug in whatever information they want, and the website spits out a false article that looks real.
Creators of the website, which is based out of Belgium, tell NBC Charlotte they took the article down because it violated their rules, but did not clarify which one(s).
A disclaimer on the site states, “this website is an entertainment website… that should not be taken seriously.”
We also verified with Pennsylvania State police that Stephens was spotted in Erie at 11 a.m. Tuesday, and shot himself in the head after a brief pursuit.
So we can say for a fact this article is FALSE. Stephens was never in the Charlotte area.
Facebook has rolled out new policies this month to help you spot and report fake news. They posted an article about it on their blog, you can read it here.
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