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NBCU Sends Cease-and-Desist Notice to Fake News Site

'Parody' site has posted false news about 'Breaking Bad,' 'South Park'

NBCUniversal has issued a legal threat to the “parody” website NBC.com.co, which has made hay recently from fake news stories designed to trade on the Peacock’s name.

The media conglomerate sent an email to the site in mid-September, informing it that “the unauthorized use of the NBC and NBC News names on the website falsely suggests, and is likely to confuse visitors into thinking, that the website is affiliated with, endorsed by, involved with, or otherwise connected to NBC News or NBCUniversal.”

The bogus NBC.com.co site, registered via an anonymous service using the top-level domain assigned to Colombia, recently has managed get its fake stories into the Google News feed by making them appear as if they’re from NBC News. Those included false reports that Yelp.com sued the producers of “South Park” and Comedy Central over a recent episode and another that “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan was plotting a sixth season of the show.

Paul Horner, the individual who claims responsibility for the website, confirmed in an email to Variety that NBCU sent a legal takedown notice — but he argued that his site is legally protected because it’s a parody and because he doesn’t use any NBC logos.

NBCU declined to comment on the matter. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Advertisers on NBC.com.co — placed through Google’s DoubleClick service — currently include Best Buy, Showtime Networks, Lionsgate, TD Bank, Maserati and Cablevision Systems’ Optimum. Horner claims to operate other fake-news websites as well.

The obviously outlandish headlines on NBC.com.co include “Obama Endorses Donald Trump For President” and “Obama Announces Third Term Presidential Run.”

Less-evident nonsense on the website includes bogus headlines like “Fight Club 2 Announced: Begins Filming November 2015” and “Largest Hispanic Civil Rights Group Honors Donald Trump With ‘Worst Person In The World’ Award.”

Horner lives in Phoenix, Arizona, according to reports. Per a Washington Post profile of the character last year, he is the perpetrator of numerous Internet hoaxes, including one that Facebook would start charging a monthly user fee and another that President Obama personally funded a Muslim cultural museum.

 

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