Visa-free travel to Australia, Duterte’s bulletproof BMW, and other fake stories online

Gelo Gonzales
These dubiously-named websites trick people into believing that they're affiliated with established news companies

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Mimicry, as a survival method, is a known technique in the animal kingdom. Some predators copy the appearance of harmless creatures to lure prey. Vice versa, some prey pretend to be a predator to ward off one. 

But as some websites prove, mimicry isn’t a trick exclusive to the animal kingdom. Witness: sites that blatantly steal the name of established news sites while slightly varying it.

For these sites, the desired effect is that they immediately gain a reader’s trust, owing to the presence of a familiar news brand in their name. Those who do not pay enough attention will believe that they’re reading or sharing an item from an established news institution. 

Mimicry is deception. Suffice to say, deception is not the hallmark of a website attempting to publish news.

Take a look at some sites pretending to be legitimate news outlets: 

1) bbc-channel.com

Site it’s trying to mimic: bbc.com

Sample headlines:

“BREAKING: Baby ‘Rody Duterte’ Named In Duterte’s Honor”

“On Service, Clinton Separates Trump From Past GOP Presidents”

“Africa Presidents Magufuli, Mugabe Praise Duterte, Say He Is A ‘Hero'” 

Screenshot:

2) cnn-channel.com

Site it’s trying to mimic: cnn.com

Sample headlines: 

“LOVELY: Billionaire John Gokongwei buys Duterte a customized Bullet-proof 2016 BMW M2” 

“Senator De Lima: Youth of Philippines are Lazy” 

“16-year-old Canadian To Receive Millions of Dollars From Samsung for Providing Solution for Galaxy Note 7”

Screenshot: 

3) aljazeera-tv.com

Site it’s trying to mimic: aljazeera.com

Sample headlines: 

“De Lima Says Filipino Youth Are lazy”

“MIRACLE: Georgina Wilson Gives Birth Just 3 Months after Pregnancy and Baby Looks Like 1 year old”

“Ramos Flown to Germany For Medical Care As His Condition Becomes Critical” 

Screenshot:

4) theguard1an.com

Site it’s trying to mimic: theguardian.com

Sample headlines: 

“VLADIMIR PUTIN: Fidel Ramos Is Blind”

“‘I Never Apologized’ – Miss Earth Philippines Says Her Account Is Hacked” 

“Duterte Attracts More Investors As Bill Gates Invests $20 Billion In The Philippines”

Screenshot: 

Theguard1an.com has a disclaimer page that tells the reader not to take the website seriously. However, this clarification is not prominently displayed on the site’s front page or within the articles. It can only be seen through a link accessed via a dropdown menu that appears under “CONTACT US” – hardly a high-traffic area of any website. 

  5) tv-cnn.com (Added Nov 7, 2016)

 

Site it’s trying to mimic: cnn.com

Sample headlines: 

“BREAKING NEWS: Australia Announces Visa-Free For Filipino Ordinary Passport Holders”

“Senate Overturns Obama’s Veto Of 9/11 Bill”

“Israelis, World Leaders Gather For Peres Funeral”

Screenshot: 

Social media users should keep their eyes peeled for sites like these which attempt to associate themselves with known media brands. The 5 here are just a few of the many fake sites out there, and new ones may pop up regularly. 

Have you encountered other websites using a similar tactic? Hit us up in the comments below. – Rappler.com

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.