A fake news article spawned by an online generator has falsely accused an Indian restaurant of serving human meat.
The story, posted and shared on Facebook last month among private accounts, claimed human meat was found in the freezer of Karri Twist, a restaurant in New Cross.
The owner, Shinra Begum, said she had received a “deluge” of angry and disapproving calls. Her business has seen a sharp decline in customers since the article began circulating.
“This is ruining my business,” Begum said. “I’m going to run the restaurant for as long as possible, but I’m in danger of having to close down.”
Begum could not report the story to Facebook, since it was shared by private accounts. She was unable to contact the social media giant by phone or email.
Facebook did not respond to an interview request for this story.
Dr Jonathan Cable, a lecturer of digital media at Cardiff University, said that news stories with large share buttons, such as the ones featured on channel23news.com, are more likely to spread on social media.
“A lot of the dissemination of fake news has to do with shareability,” he said. “If your friend shows you a story from channel 23 news about serving human meat, you’re more likely to believe it because why would your friend lie to you?”
No one from the anonymous news website was available for comment, but the instructions on their website said: “Create a fake story and trick all your friends!”
A parliamentary inquiry into fake news, launched earlier this year, is likely to resume in September when politicians return to Westminster following the General Election. The inquiry was launched to investigate the effects of fake stories on the public’s perception of the world.