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Fake coupon news story

Here’s a headline that grabs your attention: “Coupons No Longer Accepted in U.S. Stores Starting July 1, 2014”! Also, “P&G no longer making coupons,” “Coupons no longer to be accepted at Walmart,” and the intriguing “Couponer arrested for shopping too much”. They seem too unbelievable to be true, but if they appear in your email or your Facebook feed, maybe you’ll click on the links and read the stories anyway… you know, just in case there might be some truth to them…

Well, don’t. They’re fake.

Those stories are just some of the “fake news” articles that have been making their way around social media sites and email inboxes recently, alarming the gullible and annoying the rest of us whose Facebook friends actually share this stuff.

They all originate from a site called Sunday Times Daily (which, if you think about it, couldn’t possibly be the name of a real news publication). The clickbait website, founded just a few weeks ago, has already generated hundreds of thousands of visits, by publishing outrageous fake news stories made to look like they’re from real news sites, encouraging visitors to submit their own, and hoping they go viral.

So far, the most popular stories seem to be coupon-related. A story purporting to be from the New York Times claims that P&G is getting out of the coupon business. A “Wall Street Journal” story says Walmart will no longer accept coupons. And a “Fox News” story tells the tale of an addicted couponer “arrested for shopping too much. She will be arraigned and since this is her 2nd offence, she will sentenced to 1 year probation from shopping plus she must seek help for her addiction.”

But the story of the looming nationwide coupon ban is by far the most popular. “Starting July 1st, all stores in the United States are unable to accept coupons,” reads the fake Fox News story headlined “Coupons No Longer Accepted in U.S. Stores Starting July 1, 2014”. “This is because of an increase in Coupon fraud caused by the show Extreme Couponing. Sources say there will public outrage because of the new policy which will be going into effect at 12:00 AM on July 1st.”

That story earned 200,000 views on the day it was published earlier this week, and has since surpassed 300,000. Only after you click through to the site and read the fake story, does a new page appear that says “it was just a joke” and invites you to “share it and trick your friends.”

All the better to get more eyeballs onto the site, see its banner ads, and ultimately make the site owners a lot of money for very little work.

One could argue that Sunday Times Daily’s “news” stories are all in good fun, especially since the site fesses up and tells you the story you clicked on isn’t real, after you’ve fallen for it. But as fake news goes, the site is not exactly the Onion or even the Daily Currant when it comes to clever (or grammatically correct) writing.

Still – 200,000 views a day for a poorly-written fake news story about coupons? It almost makes you wonder who in their right mind would toil away at writing real news stories about coupons, that earn far less than 200,000 views a day.

Hmmmm. Maybe they’re onto something after all…

One Comment

  1. Kimberly Wells says:

    Lol i love how you incorporated this into the other articles comments when the person accused you of click bait rofl.

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