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Category Archives: Fake News
Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:30 am
Houston, TX This has not been one of the best weeks for the Houston Texans. Ever since they returned from Buffalo after a game that didnt exactly go to plan, the body language and the expressions of the team players has not been like that of previous weeks.
The era of good feelings, the whole us against the world mentality thing, the team culture/character thingyeah, that is dead observed one unnamed player. Wow, after that final whistle on the field, we were all just racing to get back into the locker room, get out of our uniforms and get the [Easterby] out of Buffalo. That was one of those games where you just burn the game tape, sweep up the ashes, burn those ashes, sweep up the new ashes, dip them into acid, and then, just to be sure, blow it up with C4and then probably burn whatever is left.
Yet, Culley was not having ANY of that!!! Man, I know the offensive line was brutalized that game, and [Laremy] Tunsil was racing for that special post-game mask, but Culley cut him off.
We at Totally Not Fake News obtained a transcript of that session:
Listen up you dumb [Easterby] [Easterbys]!!!! Ive been in football for over 40 years, and I have never seen a team lie down and take it up the [Easterby] like you weak [Easterby] [Easterbys] did today!! Oh, we aint waitin until Monday to review any game film, tape, or any position. [Offensive Coordinator Tim] Kelly! Get your idiot-[Easterby] assistants ready with that game tape. We watching that [Easterby] now!!!!
The unnamed player had to pause for several minutes Im sorry.III need you guys to give me a minute. The horror.The horror! We watched the whole offensive gamethe WHOLE [EASTERBY] OFFENSIVE GAME!!!! I have never seen so many grown-[Easterby] men screaming, cryingoh, it was horrible. As for Culley, his eyes just grew redder with fire and rage. He just ripped everyone! Mills was crying for his Mommy. One of the LBs got up from his chair, but was immediately introduced to Culleys new assistant, Lucille. A couple of hard-hitting sessions with Lucille, and that LB, or RB, or CB, or whichever of those overstocked positions we have, was slapped right back down.
He made the team watch the entire sequence of offensive plays for the team 3 times. 3 TIMES!!!! After we sat through that brutal session, we were allowed to get up and leave. So, that was an extra hour of time from our day, but Culley wanted to make a point. I think he did. Just not sure about the price.
Practice seemed a tense, fearful affair. Culley was nearly inseparable from Lucille and they werent afraid to make their point on the practice field. After Phillip Lindsay only got a half-yard during one practice running play, Culley and Lucille came after him. Lindsay tried to dance away from them, but after a furious 30 second dance, he only got two steps forward before they intercepted him. Anthony Miller attempted to protest, but Culley/Lucille resolved that argument rather quickly. Caserio tried to plead for clemency, but Culley/Lucille could not be deterred.
As for the rest of the team, the Texans find themselves in a strange situation. The team has been outscored 95-30 since Week 1, they are down a starting quarterback and have to rely on a rookie and a career back-up (and they dont have any other option on the roster at this timeabsolutely no other option). Yet, they find themselves second in the division, only one game back of the division leader and defending division champion Tennessee. Right where we want to be. Exceeding expectations and filling those coffers, er, seats at NRG. Got some good ratings with our prime-time game, and this will be a springboard for so much more noted Team CEO Cal McNair.
Speaking of Week 1, the Texans have found themselves in a continued fight with Jacksonville. Rather, the fans between the two teams are constantly going at it over various social media forums. Some of the conversation got quite heated:
Texans Fans: Man, does our team [Easterby] suck!!! Did you see that offensive performance in Buffalo? The worst 17 minutes of possession in our lives
Jacksonville Fans: Oh boo-hoo. You dumb-[Easterbys] actually won a game. We aint beaten anybody! We even have the best QB prospect in 10 years, and we can do [Easterby]! We had a game with a kick-six, and we still lost by double-digits.
Texans Fans: Yeah, but our only win was against yall. Our worst team in 19 years of existence and we cant even lose to you. Even after we have 5 running backs who collectively rush for 50 yards, an offensive line with perhaps the most draft capital in the league (counting that wonderful BOB trade) and we cant run or pass block. We are the worst in the division.
Jacksonville Fans: Oh please, you [Easterby] [Easterbys]!!!! Weve defined suck in the AFC South. We aint been good since the turn of the 20th Century. All of our positions suck, and dont even get us started with how we wasted the 2017 contender that was one quarter away from a Super Bowl, even with Blake [Easterby] Bortles!!
Texans Fans: Shut up, you meth-shooting lower-class wanna-be Georgians!!! You actually got to an AFC championship game! We couldnt even get past a Divisional Round game, and that was with a 24-point lead!! We gave a mediocre coach the GM position and he proceeded to suck at both positions, and he wasnt good enough to outlast the worst pastor since Jim Jones!
Jacksonville Fans: You want to talk to us about idiot coaches and front office people, you steer[Easterby] [Easterbys]?!?! We have the biggest bust of the off-season, Urban [Easterby] Meyer. Cant make a good decision on the field. The only thing he seems to be hands-on with is when he is gettin it on with some chicks at a bar.
Texans Fans: Oh, you want to talk hypocrisy with leaders and morals? Youve seen who really runs our team? A failed Joel Olsteen? Playing all them Rasputin/Littlefinger games in the front office? We clearly are the worst team!!
Jacksonville Fans: [Easterby] you!!! We suck MORE!!
Texans Fans: No, we suck MORE!!!
This social media sparring continued for hours over various social media forums. Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were deluged with this. Twitter didnt report this as all that much out of the ordinary, and the administrators at the SB Nation sites using Coral were actually upset that they didnt even come close to that traffic level. Still, the situation threatened to get out of hand, until the man of the hour, David Culley, rode to the rescue. He uploaded the same game film he showed the Texans players, doing so on Monday afternoon. The response basically nuked all further debate/conversation.
On that note, the Texans, and perhaps the Jacksonville counterparts, seek to get ready for their respective opponents. For the Texans, that means they are hosting the New England Patriots. To be honest, our crack staff at Totally Not Fake News cant quite figure out if there is a major subplot to this game, other than two 1-3 teams going at it on Sunday. Maybe there is a connection or two, but it is probably minor and of little significance to the Texans strategic thinking or the backgrounds of their leaders. Come what may, the game is slated for Sunday, and the action will be covered on and off the field (if there is anything of note for the off-the-field news).
The rest is here:
Posted: at 10:30 am
Pfizers COVID-19 vaccine does not contain fetal cells, contrary to online claims
CLAIM: Newly leaked emails among Pfizer employees show that the companys COVID-19 vaccine contains fetal cells.
THE FACTS: A widely shared video by the group Project Veritas has led to a false claim online that purported emails among Pfizer officials show that the pharmaceutical companys COVID-19 vaccine contains aborted fetal cells. But the video an interview between Project Veritas founder James OKeefe and a self-identified Pfizer employee who claims to show internal emails from the company does not support that erroneous conclusion. Instead, it shows that the company used a fetal cell line when testing the efficacy of its vaccine. Cell lines, which are key to medical research, are cloned copies of cells from the same source that have been adapted to grow continuously in labs. Nevertheless, users spread the falsehood about the contents of the vaccine widely on social media. You are mandated to inject dead babies into your body, one Twitter account sharing the video falsely claimed. Fetal cells in the vaccines yet they are denying people religious exemptions. At the heart of the widely shared video spurring the false claims are purported emails among Pfizer officials from early 2021. The messages displayed show an alleged conversation about the companys reluctance to publicize that testing of its vaccine not production used a cell line that was originally derived from fetal tissue. One of the main emails cited specifically says, Human fetal derived cell lines are not used to produce our investigational vaccine, which consists of synthetic and enzymatically produced components. It adds: One or more cell lines with an origin that can be traced back to human fetal tissue has been used in laboratory tests associated with the vaccine program. The video also shows an email referencing the HEK293T cell line or Human Embryonic Kidney 293 which was firstestablishedin the early 1970s using cells from a kidney of a fetus. Whats not made clear in the video is that it is alreadypublicrecordthat Pfizers vaccine was tested using such cells. In a paperpublishedin September 2020 detailing the vaccines development and success in mice and monkeys, Pfizer and BioNTech scientists said that the vaccine had been tested using the HEK293T cell line. And the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in aJanuary documentabout the COVID-19 vaccines noted: Neither Pfizer nor Moderna used an abortion-derived cell line in the development or production of the vaccine. However, such a cell line was used to test the efficacy of both vaccines. The conference recommended that, in the absence of a vaccine with no connection at all to such a cell line, vaccines that use them only for testing would be preferable to those that use such cell lines for ongoing production. Dr. Saahir Khan, an assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases at the University of Southern California, said about the Pfizer shot, There are no components of fetal cells in the vaccine, and none used in manufacturing. Khan said it is very common to use such cell lines somewhere along the way in the research or development of vaccines and other medicine for humans. He said such cell lines, started decades ago, are grown in labs so the cells being used for research are not the original cells. One COVID-19 vaccine used in the U.S., from Johnson & Johnson, is produced by using an adenovirus that is grown using retinal cells that trace back to a fetus from 1985,accordingto the Vaccine Education Center at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. Vaccines for chickenpox and other diseases also use this type of process. But none of these vaccinescontainfetal cells. Pfizer did not respond to questions about the Project Veritas video, but a spokesperson pointed out that information about the testing has been publicly disclosed through a number of sources and news reports.
Associated Press writer Angelo Fichera in Philadelphia contributed this report.
The FBI is not targeting opponents of critical race theory
CLAIM: Attorney General Merrick Garland has instructed the FBI to mobilize against parents who oppose critical race theory in public schools, citing threats.
THE FACTS: A memo Garland issued on Monday to address a rise in criminal conduct targeting school personnel is being misrepresented online. Garland did not single out opponents of critical race theory. Rather, he stated the FBI would work with U.S. attorneys and federal, state and local authorities to develop strategies to combat what he called a disturbing spike in violent threats facing educators, administrators and school boards. The trend was highlighted in a Sept. 29letterfrom the National School Boards Association to President Joe Biden requesting federal assistance to investigate mounting threats and crimes against educators and school officials. Following Garlandsmemo, an activist known for speaking out againstcritical race theory a way of thinking about Americas history through the lens of racism shared the erroneous claim that the FBI was specifically targeting public school parents who oppose such race education. Wyn Hornbuckle, the Justice Departments deputy director of media affairs, told The Associated Press the claim was misleading and stated that the Attorney Generalsguidanceand the Justice Departments efforts are focused on rooting out criminal threats of violence for any reason, not targeting a particular ideology. There has been misinformation circulated that the Attorney Generals directive is an effort to silence those with particular views about COVID-related policies, school curricula, or other topics of public discussion. This is simply not true, Hornbuckle wrote in an email. Critical race theory, developed by scholars during the 1970s and 1980s, centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nations institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society. The concept has drawn condemnation by conservative commentators, lawmakers and former President Donald Trump. The NSBAs letter did not specifically focus on threats surrounding critical race theory.It asked forthe federal government to investigate any cases where threats or violence could be handled as violations of federal civil rights laws no matter what prompted them. NSBA and school board members dont want to stop parents from expressing their First Amendment rights, the NSBA said in a statement emailed to the AP. We want to stop the death threats, threats to family members, and other harassment and acts of intimidation that school board members are facing. The group documented more than 20 instances of threats, harassment, disruption and acts of intimidation across multiple states. While the letter did cite several threats it had flagged in response to false assertions that school boards were adopting critical race theory curriculum, the majority of the threats it documented were in response to coronavirus-related restrictions, including mask and vaccine requirements in schools.
Associated Press writer Sophia Tulp in Atlanta contributed this report, with additional reporting from Terrence Fraser in New York.
Infrastructure bill doesnt include tax on cows
CLAIM: Under the proposed infrastructure bill, farmers will be taxed for each cow, including $6,500 a year for dairy cows.
THE FACTS: Theinfrastructure bill, a $1 trillion package that wasapprovedin August by the Senate, does not include such a provision. Yet in a tweet shared by thousands that also circulated on Facebook, a conservative commentator falsely claimed the legislation would impose taxes on cows that would cripple American agriculture. Just one example cattle farmers have to pay $2600 PER COW a year, Melissa Tate wrote. Dairy cows $6500 a year. This will put millions of cattle farmers out of business. Tate did not respond to a request for comment. The erroneous claim follows a congressmans false assertion about a separate, $3.5 trillionreconciliation bill, referred to as the Build Back Better Act, that issupportedby many Democrats. In astatementcriticizing that bill, Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin said the legislation would impose a fee on all methane emissions, including in our agriculture industry. The tax is estimated to cost $6,500 per dairy cow, $2,600 per head of cattle, and $500 per swine each year. But the reconciliation bill as currently drafted includes taxes on methane emissions relating to oil and gas production not from livestock. A spokesperson for Mullin acknowledged that the bill does not currently contain those provisions. This is what could happen if the methane fee were applied to agriculture, Meredith Blanford said in an email. She said that while the text of the bill only specifies the oil and gas industry, it also references the Environmental Protection Agencys greenhouse gas inventory and leaves too much room for the EPA to expand its regulatory reach. Blanford said the numbers were derived from an analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation, a lobbying group. The organizations vice president for public affairs, Sam Kieffer, said in aSept. 30 statementthat the groups economists over the summer conducted an analysis of potential costs on agriculture using proposals relating to the methane tax on oil and gas. To clear up any confusion, I want to make clear that the current language of the reconciliation bill does not impose a methane tax on agriculture, Kieffer said.
Parents dont need to be vaccinated to take their newborns home in New York
CLAIM: New York hospitals, including NYU Langone Health, will not release newborn babies or infants in neonatal intensive care units, frequently referred to as NICUs, to parents who have not been vaccinated.
THE FACTS: No such restrictions exist. The false information, which claimed to stem from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, circulated widely on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. New Forced Control: NYU Langone and other Hospitals in New York and Long Island are Forcing that if the parent is not VAXXED they will not release Babies from the NICU to Parents or after birth as per CDC Guidelines. You Need to Show VAX-Passport to see your own New Born Baby, the false post states. State health officials said there was no truth to the claim. The New York State Department of Health is deeply disturbed by the grossly inaccurate messages being spread on social media regarding the false claim that theres a prohibition on parents/guardians taking a baby home from the hospital based upon vaccination status, Jill Montag, director of communications at the state Department of Health, told the AP in an email. NYU Langone Healthaddressed the baseless claimson Twitter last week. In response to the false & completely unfounded post circulating on social media: NYU Langone DOES NOT prohibit a parent/guardian from taking a child home from the NICU due to their vaccination status we vehemently discourage the spread of this inaccurate, harmful information, the statement said.
Associated Press writer Arijeta Lajka in New York contributed this report.
Teens death in England misrepresented by vaccine opponents
Adam Ali, a high school student from Solihull, a town in West Midlands, England, died from the COVID-19 vaccine.
THE FACTS: Ali, a 17-year-old student who died in September, had not been vaccinated against COVID-19. His death was misrepresented online. The actual cause of Alis death is unknown, according to a spokesperson from the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS. One false tweet claimed, Adam Ali 17 years old from Alderbrook school, had his first jab, had instant adverse reaction, convulsing, blood clots, adding he died the other day within two weeks and not a word from the media. Ali, a student at Alderbrook Sixth Form in Solihull, died at Birminghams Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Sept. 19. We can confirm that Adam did not have a COVID-19 vaccination; the cause of his tragic death is currently unknown, a spokesperson for the Birmingham and Solihull vaccination program at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS said in an emailed statement.
Posts falsely claim sex offenders dont carry identifying cards for privacy reasons
CLAIM: Sex offenders are not required to carry cards identifying them as sex offenders because it is an invasion of their privacy.
THE FACTS: Several states require registered sex offenders to carry special identification, and when states have rejected such laws, it has been based on the First Amendment, not privacy. Social media users are misrepresenting sex offender laws as they criticizerequirements to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, and incorrectly compare the two. So we need a vaccine card to drink a beer at a bar, but sex offenders dont need to carry anything? reads the text on one widely shared TikTok video. The U.S. has over 750,000 registered sex offenders and NONE of them are required to carry a passport because it violates their privacy, another videos text read. Those claims rest on the false premise that privacy protections prevent sex offenders from being required to carry special identification. But experts on sex offender laws confirmed that in at least nine states, sex offenders do have to carry a state ID card with a special label. In some states this says Sex Offender while in others the designation is a code that is known to law enforcement, said Elizabeth Jeglic, a professor and psychologist at John Jay College in New York who researches sexual violence prevention. Courts in some states have struck down laws requiring sex offenders to identify themselves in this way, but judges have not cited privacy reasons. Instead, they havepointed to the First Amendments compelled speech doctrine, which says the government cant force an individual or group to convey a certain message. The claims spreading online this week also fail to recognize that registered sex offenders have limited access to privacy as it is, according to Alissa Ackerman, an assistant professor of criminal justice at California State University, Fullerton. When sex offenders are required to register, they must upload their full name, demographic information, aliases, birthday, address and other information to a public database, Ackerman said. So they dont have a lot of privacy, she said. This claim that is being made online is just asinine.
Associated Press write Ali Swenson in New York contributed this report.
Find AP Fact Checks here
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Posted: at 10:30 am
By: Donald J. Trump
The Thursday House hearing of the Arizona Election Scam turned sharply against the Democrats when Congressman Andy Biggs and others started asking questions about all the damning findings of the audit and the people for Maricopa County were unable to give an answer.
It was incredible.
They could not answer why they deleted and moved election data after they received a subpoena, or why they have never delivered chain of custody documents for millions of ballots.
Congressman Andrew Clyde exposed the Democrats Big Lie that Biden won the recount, because no matter how many times you count counterfeit money, you may have 100 pieces of paper in your pocket, but you sure dont have $100 dollars in legal tender.
The hearing exposed how numerous laws were broken during the Arizona voting, how blank mail-in ballot envelopes were approved, and how there are tens of thousands of suspected fraudulent ballots.
The Fake News, however, refuses to cover those questions and answers because they prove, without question, that we won Arizona (and many other states).
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Fake news and propaganda machines: new theatre production pulls Animal Farm into the now – The Conversation AU
Posted: at 10:30 am
Review: Animal Farm, written by Van Badham and directed by Emily McLean, Black Swan State Theatre Company.
In 1937 George Orwell witnessed a boy whipping a horse. This was a catalyst for his novel Animal Farm. Published in 1945, it remains a potent political satire.
A story about the days and months following an animal revolt on a run-of-the-mill English farm, Orwells book is an allegory for Stalinist USSR where the ideals of communism were crushed by factionalism, power mongering and a propaganda machine in overdrive.
Severe, harsh and fascist: this is the reality of the overworked and underfed animals of Mr Jones Manor Farm. And so the animals rebel, ousting Farmer Jones, establishing Animalism and changing the name to Animal Farm. Still, no creature comforts are afforded the animals.
Except for the pigs the new power brokers nothing changes.
Read more: Orwell's ideas remain relevant 75 years after 'Animal Farm' was published
This new production adheres closely to Orwells text while simultaneously brimming with contemporary references, including Trumpisms (Make Animal Farm Great), tweets, Fox-influenced Fux News and a poet pig as a Sia lookalike.
In contrast to the playfulness and farce in Van Badhams script, Fiona Bruces stark set of scaffolding and black corrugated tin suggests a more sinister world. Together with Karen Cooks chilly lighting design the set is effectively unnerving. Crowd control barriers suggest political rallies or, more disturbingly, the corralling of animals for slaughter.
The only colour in the animals world is from the massive cinema screen. It dazzles with a pastiche of specially created videos, stock footage and images.
We see in all his power and glory the lead pig Napoleon, the supreme leader played with a nod to Trump by Alison van Reeken. Speaking from the Oval Office, he is resplendent in his all-too-human clothes.
There are appearances from the leaders press secretary (Squealer) who seems to be channelling Sarah Huckabee Sanders and is played with cheeky irreverence by Megan Wilding as she defends her leader and warns of the proliferation of fake news.
The images just keep on coming, sometimes at such a dizzying rate there is no time to think. This is key to maintaining power. Keep the masses mindlessly occupied and crucially unaware of their oppression.
Distort the truth, brand opposing viewpoints as fake news and lay the propaganda on thick.
Read more: Why the world should be worried about the rise of strongman politics
Just three actors take on 16 roles. They are the powerhouse of this production. The skill and stamina of the actors (Andrea Gibbs, van Reeken and Wilding) demand audience attention. Immense pleasure is simply had by observing how quickly and seamlessly they transition from one character to another, embodying both animals and humans.
Gibbs opening monologue as Old Major is a particular standout. He is a wise boar on his last four legs, now confined to a wheelchair.
This scene could have easily slipped into comedy. For starters, theres an actor with a pigs snout and corkscrew tail, evoking Martin Luther Kings I have a dream speech as he recalls his own dream of a world void of humans where all animals are free. But Gibbs plays it with dignity and force.
At the end of this speech, Old Major stands to proclaim the tenets of Animalism, among them: Whatever goes on two legs is an enemy  And in fighting against men we must never resemble them.
But there he is, Old Major struggling with all his might to stand, humanlike, on two legs. A terrible omen of what is to come; we know the revolution is doomed to fail.
Director Emily McLean smoothly orchestrates the shifts between stage and screen, choreographing the numerous entrances and exits with all the precision farce demands.
The performance is slick and fast: you need to strap yourself in. But there are times when you just want the production to slow right down and land.
I wanted to savour moments, space to allow for key events to impact. There were instances I simply needed time to process information, or make sense of who was who especially given the actors were playing multiple roles.
Adapting a novel for the stage has its challenges. One of the biggest is how to deal with exposition, and unfortunately there were times the play was bogged down by too many words, when what the audience wanted was action and interaction between characters.
Perhaps casting more actors would have achieved this capacity to create more scenes: three actors good, a couple more better.
Animal Farm is at the Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, until 24 October.
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Posted: at 10:30 am
Kenya's first attorney general Charles Njonjo.
Last evening, reports flooded social media that Kenya's first attorney general Charles Njonjo was dead.
Many shared 'RIP' messages, with little effort to verify whether the reports were true.
Journalist Salime Lone and wildlife conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu also shared the death reports.
Lone has since stated, "I feel truly awful. I posted comments an hour ago about my dear friend Charles Njonjo and his passing an hour ago. It seems that I was totally wrong. It's pointless to state that numerous new sites and others etc carried the news, I should have checked further. I feel very ashamed and offer sincerest apologies to all who were misled by my post."
Early Sunday morning, Njonjo's family had to issue a statement, saying Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I am well and enjoying my weekend at home ...."
But Njonjo is not the first casualty of the death rumour mill. Part of why prominent figures fall victim to death rumours is because their health is a secret.
Others who have suffered a similar fate include former President Mwai Kibaki, Simeon Nyachae, ex-President Daniel Moi, and former boxing champion Conjestina Achieng.
In March last year, a Facebook article claimed that Kibaki had died.
His son Jimmy took to Twitter to thus clarify, "My Father is safe and healthy. Ignore the rumors about Lee Funeral Home."
The same case was for Charles Nyachae, who went to Twitter to state that his father Simeon was still alive. He later died on February 1.
For Conjestina, sports journalist Carol Radull dispelled her death rumours by posting, "Conjestina Achieng's treatment at the Nacada Kenya-approved facility is going well. She began her third month on October 13. As you know rehabilitation is a process with good and bad days but progress is all we pray for. Thank you for continuing to pray for her and support her fund."
Further afield, others who have had to fight death rumours are former US President Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Jeff Bezos.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was on July 7 last year a target of death rumors, which led to a #ripjeffbezos trend on Twitter.
The Wrap reported that following Clinton's appearance at a 9/11 memorial in September 2016 in which she appeared to collapse while getting into a van, ABC News weekend anchor Joe Torres said on that evening's newscast, "We begin with the breaking news about Hillary Clintons death." The anchor meant to say "health" rather than "death," but Twitter nonetheless had a field day.
In Obama's case, Fox News' Twitter account was on July 4, 2011, hacked by a group that posted he had been assassinated in Iowa.
Such incidents raise queries on why fake news spreads fast on social media, especially Twitter.
A 2018 study by three Massachusetts Institute of Technology scholars found that false news spreads more rapidly on Twitter than real news does.
To conduct the study, the researchers tracked roughly 126,000 cascades of news stories spreading on Twitter, which were cumulatively tweeted over 4.5 million times by about 3 million people, from the years 2006 to 2017.
The study showed false news stories are 70 per cent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are.
It said it takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.
When it comes to Twitters cascades, or unbroken retweet chains, falsehoods reach a cascade depth of 10 about 20 times faster than facts. And falsehoods are retweeted by unique users more broadly than true statements at every depth of cascade.
The article on MIT News adds that the spread of false information is essentially not due to bots that are programmed to disseminate inaccurate stories. Instead, false news speeds faster around Twitter due to people retweeting inaccurate news items.
The study was motivated by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent casualties, which received massive attention on Twitter.
MIT News said to determine whether stories were true or false, the team used the assessments of six fact-checking organizations (factcheck.org, hoax-slayer.com, politifact.com, snopes.com, truthorfiction.com, and urbanlegends.about.com), and found that their judgments overlapped more than 95 percent of the time.
Of the 126,000 cascades, politics comprised the biggest news category, with about 45,000, followed by urban legends, business, terrorism, science, entertainment, and natural disasters. The spread of false stories was more pronounced for political news than for news in the other categories, the article added.
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Posted: at 10:30 am
Amitava Kumars new novel, A Time Outside This Time," often feels like something other than a novel. The narrator, Satya, is a professor and writer very much like Kumar, though we never get to read his new novel, Enemies of the People, based on the many untrue stories that surround us and threaten to destroy us.
Kumars book doesnt quite fit into the booming category of autofiction, in which authors including Olivia Laing, Jenny Offill, Rachel Cusk and Karl Ove Knausgaard transfer their own lives and often their own names to autobiographical fiction.
Its not just that Kumar differentiates his protagonist with a fictional name and fictional novels, but that he largely forsakes plot, spending more time melding journalism into his work. Time is suffused with his musings on where fiction fits into our brave new world of truth and lies. I use what is called real life to craft my fiction, he says. How is it different from fake news?
Kumar, 58, came from India in the 1980s as a student; he is the author of more than a dozen books, fiction and nonfiction, including the novel Immigrant, Montana, and an English professor at Vassar College.
Theres a fraudulence to the traditional novel, Kumar says. So I share with the reader that theres art in this artifice and vice versa. I was trying to make my writing feel as fresh as blood on a bandage.
Satya is fictional but contemplates real events, from Donald Trumps lies to killings in India. He also frequently cites experiments he has learned about from his wife, a psychologist.
My editor said, I want to meet your wife," Kumar says with a laugh. "But shes not real. Im married but not to Vanni.
When Satya references Barack Obama quoting Ernest Hemingway and the importance of writing one true sentence, its both sincere and a feint. Even Kumar slips up during our video interview, saying, I Sorry, the narrator before admitting the line dividing them can feel quite fine at points.
One similarity between Kumar and Satya is clear: They agree that A novel is better than the news. He spoke with The Times about technology, Trump and truth; our conversation has been edited.
The lies and rumors, what you call bad fiction from governments, gains more traction through social media. How responsible is, say, Facebook, for the spread of these falsehoods and their consequences?
I quote a study that says whenever theres a blackout and Facebook is not available theres a lower possibility of riots taking place. And WhatsApp is a Facebook-owned company and dangerous rumors and political falsehoods are spread so quickly using WhatsApp in India. Its the main purveyor of fake news.
I think we should hold these corporations accountable. Why has there not been a systematic interrogation of the norms that have determined that this app can become a conduit for murder the very technology allowing me to see and talk to you right now could be responsible for us getting killed.
Is it just the technology or is it also human nature?
Social media does make things worse, but human nature is worse than social media. [Another cited study found] that bots spread fake news at the same rate as they do true news, but human beings spread fake news six times faster than true news. Thats astonishing. An MIT researcher wrote to me to explain, Fake news is novel. Im like, Yo man, that word is for what I do.
Much of your book recounts true or at least real-life incidents of ethnic or religious violence and government lies. The studies you cite are also real. Why did you feel you needed to mix journalism and fiction to get at the truth?
I read a novel by Olivia Laing called "Crudo." While someone is getting married a character looks at their phone and says, "Steve Bannon has resigned." I thought, "Thats the world were living in." Theres a massive assault of information, the world is coming at you so fast and in such crazy ways that I must think about how we search for some sort of order in this chaos.
I hope my book inspires people to ask, What is fiction? and Why are your lies and propaganda not fiction but this book is fiction?
Your narrator tells the reader, I cannot change your mind. If you cannot change peoples minds, why write?
No, I cant change your mind, but I want you to know that there is a book. The names and the stories of the dead are in here. Every one of those stories is real and they are written down and will not be forgotten. Writing allows me to keep a record that brings some order to this incredible chaos and allows us to remember, because its not just attention spans it is memory being wiped out by a continuous deluge of information. Writing becomes a way for me to slow-jam the world.
Why is slowing things down important?
I forget the name of the person who was killed three days ago because I remember only the name of the person who was killed yesterday, and I will forget this guys name because tomorrow there will be another killing. My book becomes a way of remembering.
Can a novel at least help readers understand their own biases? Or are the people who are unwilling to open their minds not reading a novel like this anyway?
I cite an experiment in the book [in which] older people who were given plants to take care of did better and lived longer than those who were given plants but told the attendants would take care of them. Its about being engaged or passive.
If people would write a log every day while they read this book, would the quality of their engagement change? Would we have slowed things down enough for them to think? And if they did that instead of passively watching fake news? In the spirit of the book, I do think it would work.
Tell me one true sentence.
[Laughs.] At the end of the book, I wrote, A lot of life is left in a man being killed before I tell the story of a man lynched in India. The first anniversary of a lynching was coming up and I thought Id write something about him, just to remind people what happened.
The most depressing thing for me is watching these videos of Black men being killed by the police or in India the lynching of people who are rumored to have eaten beef.
The sentence is about the human being erased in that moment.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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Posted: October 7, 2021 at 4:29 pm
Facebook is the platform with the biggest problem when it comes to disinformation and fake news, a European Union-wide survey has found, but it is also the platform identified by respondents as the one they most often use.
The survey was conducted as part of a new project involving seven European civil society organisations including the Irish group Tasc that aims to counter Euroskepticism and the creation of distrust by way of disinformation.
The survey found that 55 per cent of respondents had voted in the most recent European Parliament elections, and that a similar percentage felt that the impact of the EU had been positive.
Only eight per cent of respondents felt the union had had a negative impact, with 25 per cent feeling its impact had been both positive and negative.
Facebook was the medium most regularly accessed for information, being cited by 68 per cent of respondents to a question that allowed for the identification of multiple platforms.
Digital newspapers were second (67 per cent), followed by television (61 per cent), Instagram (60 per cent), and YouTube (56 per cent).
Print newspapers and Snapchat came in at 11 per cent, and other forums such as Reddit, at 8 per cent.
When asked what platforms they believed had a problem with disinformation, Facebook, at more than 80 per cent, came substantially ahead of Instagram and Twitter, both at slightly more than 50 per cent.
Next came television, digital newspapers, YouTube, TikTok and online blogs, all of which were in the 40 to 50 per cent range.
Almost sixty per cent of respondents felt that the EU is under threat, with 20 per cent feeling it wasnt, and a similar figure saying they didnt know.
Nationalism and detachment from European institutions was identified by almost 30 per cent as the biggest threat, with slightly less than ten per cent identifying immigration.
During a presentation in Dublin on Thursday, representatives from groups in Italy and Greece noted that in their countries only eight per cent and five per cent, respectively, of respondents cited immigration as the main danger facing the EU.
Across all countries, 73 per cent of respondents said they felt privileged to be a citizen of the union.
The survey had 989 respondents, was conducted online, and was distributed through the civil societies involved in the EU-funded CommEUnication Youth Engagement for Communicating the EU.
The average survey respondent was 26 years old, and the education level of those who responded was very high 40 per cent had a bachelors degree or diploma, 28 per cent had a masters degree, and 25 per cent were in university, the Dublin presentation heard.
Posted: at 4:29 pm
Auto Expert John Cadogan has unloaded on the Mainstream Media for betraying the public with fake news:
Heres the money quote:
This subversion of the news happens in the nightly news and the mainstream media more generally. Like Gerry Harvey huge advertiser, right? He could therefore probably go out and sponsor the fricken Taliban or sell the shitsville harbour bridge to the Chinese and throw in the Opera House for all we care. And thered be a complete absence of fake news media criticism.
Im pointing to the depth of comment control in play under the big top in the media
This really is an informational cancer, where the facts dont matter and the vested interests do
I was attacked yesterday by some subscribers for airing similar grievances from independent journalists Avi Yemini and Rukshan Fernando.
Lets get real. Independent outlets like Michael West, Real Jordies and MB only exist because the MSM has turned into swill.
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.
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Posted: at 4:29 pm
I use what is called real life to craft my fiction. How is it different from fake news? Novelists with a great gift of imagination have invented situations, often quite simple and uncomplicated ones, that you can never rid from your mind: a family undertaking a long, tortuous journey with the corpse of a family member in a coffin to the dead womans hometown (William Faulkners As I Lay Dying); two men on a train, each one wanting to kill someone, propose that they exchange murders and thereby have an alibi (Patricia Highsmiths Strangers on a Train); a woman is on her way to buy flowers for a party she will host that night (Virginia Woolfs Mrs Dalloway); a young man arriving in a city to collect his fathers ashes and going on a drug rampage that sends him into a nightmarish spiral (Edward St Aubyns Bad News).
During his last week in office in January 2017, President Barack Obama gave an interview to a book critic from The New York Times. Obama told the interviewer that his daughter Malia had read Ernest Hemingways A Moveable Feast and was captivated by the writer describing his goal of writing one true thing every day. (All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.) When I read the interview, Trump had been president for two days, and I think the idea for this book was born then.
I began keeping a daily journal, but instead of writing the truest sentence, I noted down a revealing lie. The US president was lying every day but falsehoods, I noted, could be from anywhere in the world. Heres one from my country of birth, India: In the days prior to his retirement from the Rajasthan High Court, Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma said that the cow should be declared the national animal of India because hundreds of millions of gods and goddesses lived in that sacred animal. The cow is the only creature, the judge opined, that takes in oxygen and also emits oxygen. He also extolled the virtues of cow urine.
The other day a friend posted a few lines from a poem by the radical Hindi poet Gorakh Pandey on Facebook. He was aiming to describe the situation in India under Narendra Modi. I read the extract and that same morning sat down to translate it. In my writing journal, I noted in the margin that this extract could serve as my novels epigraph:
King said it is night, Queen said it is night, Minister said it is night, Guard said it is night. This happened right This morning!
What is the opposite of a rumour?
A scientific fact, of course.
But once you start thinking of rumours as stories, which they are, it becomes clear that accounts offered by scientists about their experiments are also stories.
One researcher publishes a study showing that chimps will eat food given to them and not necessarily want to share it with other chimps, and therefore we should conclude that we are born selfish; a different researcher finds that chimps will help other chimps open a door even when they themselves cannot see the bananas strategically placed on the far side. Those inclined to engage in further storytelling go on to say something about the presence or absence of altruism across the species.
We are always telling stories. Because we deal only with stories, in literature, in history, or in science, the simple distinction between truth and lies is a naive one. Any story ought to be surrounded with other questions. Whose story is it? What ends does it serve? Does it affirm or contradict other stories?
But till that happens I want to ask scientists to clarify one thing.
On the BBC show Top Gear, a discussion about driverless cars led to conversation about an experiment that was supposedly about self-preservation. You can watch this episode on YouTube. Jeremy Clarkson, the shows host, says that scientists conducted an awful experiment in which they put monkeys and their babies in a box and heated the floor. When the heat became unbearable, all the monkeys picked up their babies and held them in their arms. But when the floor got hotter, till it was absolutely unbearable, the monkeys put the babies down and stood on them.
I have a few questions.
The main one is: Did it really happen, this experiment? Where and when?
These are perhaps silly questions. But they remind us that there are many ways to respond to a story. And I havent yet processed what the uproarious laughter of the studio audience meant when Clarkson was done telling his story about the monkey experiment.
I also want to pose a more important question: Did all the adult monkeys act in unison, picking up or putting down their babies as one body?
Were there those or, for that matter, just one that changed their minds?
Or hesitated just a bit, looking at the other monkeys, with bewildered gray-brown eyes? Or, if you allow me to be sentimental for half a second, did an adult monkey, after standing on her baby for maybe a minute, pick it up to offer comfort? And, before putting it down again if indeed all of this even happened give the doomed baby a last kiss?
Loud fans in places such as Cincinnati, Ohio, or Des Moines, Iowa, or Mobile, Alabama, had found the freedom to behave like frat boys on a Friday night. Republicans were greeted with chants of USA! USA! There was a spike in assaults against Blacks and Muslims and others who, to Trump loyalists, looked like outsiders. The Womens March took place in Washington, D.C., on January 21, the largest single-day protest in the nations history. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) declared its readiness to challenge Trumps executive orders and witnessed a spike in membership as well as donations.
The New York Times published an ad to highlight the fight over truth, which ended with the words the truth is more important now than ever. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary also took up the good fight; after Trump aide Kellyanne Conway described false statements as alternative facts, Merriam-Webster sent out the following tweet: A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. (On January 22, 2017, when I saw that tweet, it had been liked 55,914 times.)
One of the residents at the villa is a filmmaker from Connecticut. Her name is LeeAnn Wendell. She shared a bit of her work with us last week, and I got from her this quote that came from Pier Paolo Pasolini: I dont believe we shall ever again have any form of society in which men will be free. One should not hope for it. One should not hope for anything. Hope is invented by politicians to keep the electorate happy.
I wrote down Pasolinis words because I imagined my editor asking me a question when I sent in the manuscript. Whats your point? I plan to quote Pasolini and say, Point? I dont have a point. No uplifting message certainly. We are fucked.
(The residency was shut down when dire reports began to come of the deaths from a new virus. I left and later learned that one of the staff was an early casualty. I had missed an opportunity. There was a researcher there who chattered gaily in Italian with the waitstaff. Her name was Anna Duranti. Her collaborator was a very polite, very serious Chinese social scientist named Li Qinglian. The duo was examining the carbon footprint of fashion in two cities in China, one on the coast and one inland. Li stayed silent during meals unless addressed directly, to which she responded with a monosyllable and an apologetic smile, but Anna could be heard saying things like Did you know that in order to produce a cotton shirt, up to 2,700 liters of water are needed? That is exactly what I overheard her ask and she laughed when I made her repeat it so that I could write it down. Trump would go on to call it the Chinese virus and the kung flu. In India, the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare would say that if people took the step of absorbing the suns rays for ten to fifteen minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., they would build immunity. The Indian newspapers carrying this statement mentioned a BBC report that cited experts who said that exposure to the sun is completely ineffective against the virus.)
Excerpted with permission from A Time Outside This Time, Amitava Kumar, Aleph Book Company.
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Posted: at 4:29 pm
Syracuse University Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley has been studying social media before it was called social media. Five years ago, she laid out a simple three-point plan to help stem the tide of misinformation on Facebook. Today, those three recommendations remain relevant after a former Facebook employee revealed internal documents that indicate the company was lying about its progress against hate, violence and misinformation on its platform.
Stromer-Galleys plan, outlined in the piece Three ways Facebook could reduce fake news without resorting tocensorship and published by The Conversation, had these three recommendations to fight misinformation.
Option 1: Nudging
One option Facebook could adopt involves using existing lists identifying prescreened reliable andfake-news sites. The site could then alert those who want to share a troublesome article that its source is questionable.
Option 2: Crowdsourcing
Facebook could also use the power of crowdsourcing to help evaluate news sources and indicate when news that is being shared has been evaluated and rated. One important challenge with fake news is that it plays to how our brains are wired. We have mental shortcuts, calledcognitive biases, that help us make decisions when we dont have quite enough information (we never do), or quite enough time (we never do). Generally, these shortcuts work well for us as we make decisions on everything from which route to drive to work to what car to buy But, occasionally, they fail us. Falling for fake news is one of those instances.
Option 3: Algorithmic social distance
The third way that Facebook could help would be to reduce the algorithmic bias that presently exists in Facebook. The site primarily shows posts from those with whom you have engaged on Facebook. In other words, the Facebook algorithm creates what some have called afilter bubble, an online news phenomenon that hasconcerned scholarsfor decades now. If you are exposed only to people with ideas that are like your own, it leads topolitical polarization: Liberals get even more extreme in their liberalism, and conservatives get more conservative.
To schedule an interview with Professor Stromer-Galley, please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, director of media relations at Syracuse University, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-496-0551.
Stromer-Galley is the author of Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age and chief investigator for Illuminating 2020, a website dedicated to helping journalists cover US political campaigns. The website provides an interactive database for easy and quick tracking of what candidates are saying on Facebook and Twitter through campaign accounts and paid ads. She is also the Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs, and Director for the Center for Computational and Data Science at Syracuse Universitys iSchool.
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