This year has been a roller-coaster one for news, full of political upsets and shock outcomes. But while the Brexit vote and the U.S. election were making headlines, so too were apparently genuine stories that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS.
After being fact-checked, it quickly became apparent that these stories were almost entirely fabricated. And while a slightly closer inspection would have shown that Popes are traditionally politically independent and no evidence has been found that Hillary Clinton has financial links to the so-called Islamic State, many people took the stories at face value.
According to data from Buzzfeed published last month, these stories boasted nearly two million Facebook engagements, in the three months leading up to the U.S. election. To put that figure into perspective, during the same period, the top performing Facebook story for the New York Times racked up just over 370,000 engagements. A Buzzfeed investigation traced some of these fake publishers to a small town in Macedonia called Veles - where it discovered that over 140 fake news sites are based.
CNBC looks at some of the biggest top performing fake stories of 2016, using engagement figures from Buzzfeed.