In late February 2017, news reports appeared on social media sites relaying the supposed arrest of Miss South Africa Ntandoyenkosi Kunene. The headline, originally published on the fake news site, te1egraph.co.uk, stated that Ms. Kunene had been arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport with two kilograms of cocaine hidden in coffee bags. The story was removed later that day, but it continued to be circulated on social media sites. While Ms. Kunene has not spoken out about the false news story, Sun International PR Manager Claudia Henkel did make a statement. Henkel stated, “Ntando has not been arrested and she has not been caught with any drugs in her possession. She is currently in South Africa and is not in London; in fact she has never been there.”
Henkel also stated at first, she was wary to refute the fake news. Yet, once she began receiving inquiries from legitimate media sources she decided to speak out and deny the accusations. These kinds of fake news stories that appear on websites may look legitimate. In this case, even the website’s address was close to the genuine website for the UK’s Telegraph newspaper. The fake stories are crafted with click-bait headlines, and they are often picked up and spread on social media sites. This might seem malicious, but in practice, these sites want nothing more than a shocking headline to draw in readers who will then click on advertising within the article.
Stories of a nearly identical nature also appeared regarding Miss Kenya, Miss Guyana and others. While these stories were probably written with “malicious intent” according to Henkel, no parties have come forward to claim specific intent against Miss South Africa or any of the other beauty queens. Recently, instances of fake news have made the real news. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was impacted by various accusations during the most recent election. Actor Denzel Washington was also quoted as backing President Trump during the election; this accusation proved to be false. As these types of fake stories become more common, it is more important than ever to turn to reputable news sources for information.