No, Trump's cellphone is not to blame for White House leaks

The fake news headline has been making the rounds.

ByABC News
March 3, 2017, 6:18 PM
Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop in North Charleston, S.C., Feb. 18, 2016.
Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop in North Charleston, S.C., Feb. 18, 2016.
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

— -- A fake news article published by a website called "The Seattle Tribune" falsely claims that President Donald Trump's unsecured Android cell phone is the source of leaks coming from the White House over the last several weeks.

The false article -- published on Feb. 26 -- has been liked 65,000 times on Facebook and viewed more than 160,000 times, according to a counter on the web page. The first tipoff: the website has no ties to The Seattle Times -- Seattle’s actual major newspaper. An email address associated with The Seattle Tribune did not return ABC News' request for comment. The text of the article has been posted on more than a dozen other pages since Feb. 26.

The article cites real leaks from the White House over the last few weeks -- the contents of Trump’s original travel ban executive order, gossip of feuding among staff members and details of the president’s communications with foreign officials (Mexico’s president and the Australian foreign minister). Trump has forcefully declared that stopping future leaks is a priority for his administration.

But this story about President Trump’s cellphone isn't true -- here's what we know:

Why This Fake News Story Is False -- They Admit It

A disclaimer on a separate page of the website, accessible only by scrolling through many ads to the bottom of the article, says "The Seattle Tribune is a news and entertainment satire web publication. The Seattle Tribune may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within The Seattle Tribune are fictional."

The article attributes its conclusion about the leaks to two private intelligence agencies -- A.R.H. Intelligence and Z|13 Security -- neither of which appear to exist in repeated Google searches for the organizations.

The fake article claims that hackers used "a suspicious animated GIF" texted to Trump as a Trojan horse to hack into his phone. It provides no evidence of that.

Though The New York Times reported early in his presidency that Trump was still using an unsecured Android phone -- a concern for security analysts -- the article offers no evidence it's been hacked or is contributing to any leaked information.

A hashtag promoted by the article -- #DitchTheDevice -- also seems to be fake and not connected with any other movement. Our search showed that the hashtag was used several times in 2016 (by a playground equipment company) and that a British marketing company used it in 2015 and 2016.

Why You May Have Been Fooled

The article shows how slippery fake news can be -- it is filled with background information linked to trustworthy sources like NPR, Reuters, The New York Times and Politico. Though that “padding” might contain true information, the problems cited above still lead to one conclusion: This is fake news.

ABC News has launched "The Real News About Fake News" powered by Facebook data in which users report questionable stories and misinformation circulating on the platform. The stories will undergo rigorous reporting to determine if the claims made are false, exaggerated or out of context. Stories that editorial partners have also debunked will then appear flagged in your News Feed.

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