Huffington Post’s Contributor Platform Is a Magnet for Fake News and Crazy People

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By William Hicks | 9:11 pm, June 15, 2017
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Picture this.

Your dumb friend from high school shares an article from Huffington Post on Facebook. The headline is ridiculous, but hey, HuffPo is allegedly a respected website, or at least a well-trafficked one.

Then you start reading.

“Impeachment and removal from office are only the first steps; for America to be redeemed, Donald Trump must be prosecuted for treason and—if convicted in a court of law—executed.”

What the fuck! How did this get published?

This is a real article (since deleted) that was posted on Huffington Post through their “contributor platform.” The platform is a way for unvetted, unpaid bloggers to post directly to the site without editing, which of course, is a recipe for fake news and insane opinions getting shared around the internet under the banner of The Huffington Post. 

According to Digiday, the contributor network was 100,000 bloggers strong in December 2016, and HuffPo wanted to grow it to 1 million. But apparently they have changed course since and now only periodically allow people to sign up as contributors. However, some of the people that are signed up are absolutely insane and should have never been entrusted with a “news” platform in the first place.

All that separates a normal article, one written by a reporter and edited by an editor, and a contributor-platform article is a small disclaimer on the righthand side of the page.

HuffPo has to routinely delete many of these articles for being false, or just flat out insane.

Here’s some of the worst published in the last year.

But it’s not just calls for violence that get published, it’s fake news as well. A bullshit story about Donald Trump’s campaign spending $50,000 to manipulate Reddit, spread like wildfire—where else but on Reddit. The article received tens of thousands of upvotes, becoming one of the top engaged posts of that day on Reddit. HuffPo deleted the story soon after publishing, but not before it reached the eyes of tens of thousands of people.

During the election, one of their contributors, David Seaman, was kicked out of the network permanently for publishing unfounded conspiracies about Hillary Clinton’s health.

Hillary Clinton’s Health Is Superb (Aside From Seizures, Lesions, Adrenaline Pens),” he wrote in the very liberal, pro Clinton HuffPo. 

Seaman went on to be one of the preeminent conspiracy theorists of Pizzagate, the movement that believes that the upper echelons of the Democratic Party are running a child sex ring out of Washington, D.C., pizza shops.

These guys are the exact reason most publications do a base level of vetting to prove their writers aren’t sociopathic kooks.

Huffington Post started its contributor platform to shake up the conventions of publishing and disrupt journalism, and it has backfired immensely.