Universal settles complaints over fake news
Alaska Press Club lawyer says articles undermined credibilityFAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Universal Pictures has agreed to pay $20,000 to the Alaska Press Club to settle complaints about fake news archives used to promote the movie "The Fourth Kind," the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The Anchorage lawyer who negotiated the settlement for the Fairbanks paper and six other media outlets, John McKay, said the fake online stories undermined the credibility of the news organizations.
Universal created a series of fabricated online news articles to publicize the movie about a purported plague of alien abductions in Nome a decade ago. The articles posted appeared to be from real Alaska publications.
The articles included a fake obituary and news story about the death of a character in the movie, Dr. William Tyler, that supposedly were from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
The settlement also requires Universal to remove the fake news articles from the Internet.
McKay said it didn't appear that the advertising campaign was cleared by attorneys at Universal Pictures, and he praised the company for responding quickly to the complaints.
The Alaska Press Club wasn't part of the complaint, but McKay suggested it receive settlement money as a compromise that would benefit Alaska journalism.
Messages left Thursday with two spokeswomen for Universal were not returned.