# How Fake News Goes Viral

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MikeG, Nov 21, 2016.

1. ### MikeGSenior Member

The New York Times did an interesting piece on a fake story that was quickly debunked by Snopes and a few other sources, but illustrates the process of how quickly a combination of bad (or no) fact checking and social media can spread faulty information.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/b...e-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Tucker did little research to see if his claim was true or not. [My emphasis]

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/b...e-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Two days after his original tweet on November 9th, Tucker posted a retraction with little success. The lack of an impact was actually measurable.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/b...e-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

There has been an uptick in stories in fake news lately.

The Washington Post featured this story today.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...-table-main_opportunists-633pm:homepage/story

And another story from the Washington Post on Alex Jones from last Friday:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/life...3dc190-ab3e-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html

It seems that the linkages between the incoming Trump administration and conspiracy theories has focused more mainstream attention on the potentially serious consequences of fake, faulty, and poorly researched ideas.

This process is old hat for Metabunk, but it seems apparent that a larger discussion is now taking place.

I see that as a good trend or at least I hope it is. Time will tell.

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2. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

yea if they debunk liberal bunk as well. Liberal leaning newspapers 'demonizing' [Conservatives] Trump and his supporters seems pretty par-for-the-course to me.

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3. ### tinkertailorActive Member

I think a lot of it is that people don't read the actual articles, just the headlines. When it's on Facebook and you're strapped for time, "Giant Weasel Spotted in Milwaukee" might sound official. When you read the article and find out that the giant weasel was just a normal-sized German Shepherd mistaken for a weasel you might not share it but if you really strongly believe in the presence of rodents of unusual size in the country (as a hardcore anti-trump person might feel about the abovementioned article), the headline is enough. Then it gets shared because it's TRUE and it flies out of proportion.

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4. ### MikeGSenior Member

I agree, but I am curious. What would you classify as liberal bunk?

5. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

bunk (eg misrepresenting studies etc) that pushes liberal agendas, liberal opinions, anti-conservative agenda bunk. i dont really understand your question.

Unfortunately your OP kinda has two seperate topics. How news (fake or otherwise) goes viral , is a different topic then "is fake news on the rise" or "is MSM actually starting to crack down on bunk". And we should probably stick to the title topic, although i couldnt help but commment on your comment as i dont see it as a good "trend", i see it as just normal liberal type journalism (re: your linked stories) that has been happening for as long as i remember. They see a 'story' where they can point to conservatives and show how stupid they are, and they are printing it because it's a good click bait story. (conservative leaning outlets do the same in reverse)

I'm not saying they shouldnt cover the story of course. Just saying it doesnt seem like a "trend" to me. I've seen MSM debunk bunk in the past, and i've seen them spread bunk.

And how are we defining "fake news"? There is satire and outright fake websites that pose as news sites (your second example..which is good to inform people about), but then there is fake news in MSM broadcasts and publications all the time too. And then there is (your first example) the random twitter user who posts something to his friends, is mistaken and it goes viral.

I agree with @tinkertailor news stories, fake or otherwise or somewhere in between, go viral because they have click bait headlines that conform to people's predisposed biases. so they forward them.

Of course, i always think people all emotional about protesters, whereever they came from, is silly and weird. Who cares if a protest is organized? Most protests are. I dont see what the big deal is either way. I wouldn't think there was anything odd if a bunch of busses pulled up to protest Bush at some speech or whatnot.

The real question is why does the NYT care if Trump wants to behave like a paranoid weirdo or what eric Tucker thinks? 350,000 isnt really all that big. its reddit and facebook which means GLOBAL.

dont get me wrong i like any debunks as i think it makes people think a bit. But maybe the NYT and WP esp should spend a bit more time worrying about their own bunk and misreprentations and mistakes as they have a much larger audience.

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6. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

Bunk doesn't have to be right-wing, you know

It does seem that most debunkers have a liberal stance, but by no means all do. And there has been plenty of bunk flying around the internet aimed at discrediting Trump and co, too.

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7. ### MikeGSenior Member

You make a lot of points. All fair.

The Huffington Post had a story last week that might fall under the category of “liberal bunk,” although it poked fun at the whole click-bait aspect of fake news.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry...trump-with-little_us_5829f25fe4b02b1f5257a6b7

As far as past media stories on internet bunk, you are also right. The Washington Post ran a column on the topic of fake news for over a year. It concluded last December.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...ernet-this-week-why-this-is-the-final-column/

What constitutes "fake" news is also pretty broad. Agreed. We could include campaign rhetoric, advertising, MSM reports, etc. all of which generally conform to an individual's predispositions.

But what I think is different now is the level CT belief has reached. We aren't talking about esoteric, fringe groups living primarily within the confines of the internet. Now, these theories are inside the Beltway, which is why they have entered into a more serious level of discussion.

A new, interesting thread might be on presidential conspiracy beliefs. I doubt the Trump administration is the first on that count.

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8. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

We're also seeing the "fake news" banner getting raised where it shouldn't, though. For instance some newspapers are claiming that the "pizzagate" theories originated with fake news sites:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/2...-pizzeria-ensnares-kanye-west/amp/?amp_js_v=6

Whatever one thinks of the pizzagate claims, it certainly doesn't seem to be true that they originated as "fake news". They arose organically in the usual places (4chan, Reddit etc) and are interpretations of real documents, photos etc. Whether those interpretations are correct is another matter, of course.

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I quite liked this story

some enterprising teens in the former Czechoslovakia seemed to hit a rich seam of cash

“This is the news of the millennium!” said the story on WorldPoliticus.com. Citing unnamed FBI sources, it claimed Hillary Clinton will be indicted in 2017 for crimes related to her email scandal.

For Trump supporters, that certainly seemed to be the case. They helped the baseless story generate over 140,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

Meanwhile, roughly 6,000 miles away in a small town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a young man watched as money began trickling into his Google AdSense account."

https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilve...-trump-misinfo?utm_term=.ar2ZXoJAn#.kpOnqgmMN

10. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

Another interesting study showing that even young people who grew up with online news and social media are not good at differentiating between real and fake news, or news and advertising:

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11. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

And an NPR interview with a fake news creator.

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12. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

An interesting, but unsurprising, development in how the fake news propagates and why it is being generated has been written about in The Washington Post along with a listing of many of the sources that have helped to disseminate the propaganda from the propornot website. Most of these outlets are well known purveyors of bunk and conspiracy theories that most of us are already familiar with....

Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
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13. ### GreylandraMember

Sure would be nice to see some data showing a link of any kind between Russia and any of the "fake news" sites listed. "Two teams of independent researchers..." Just who is tossing out "fake news" here with no facts? Shouldn't an accusation of Russia attempting to influence the US election be accompanied by at least a modicum of evidence? This is a nuclear armed nation we're talking about.

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14. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

The ProporNot site seems to be viewed pretty skeptically by other fact-checking websites. Most of the sites they listed as "allies" say they had never heard of Propornot and don't wish to be associated with it.

For example see this tweet from Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat:

And more:

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15. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

it's viewed pretty skeptially by me too. Just for the record.
@Greylandra 'that which is presented without evidence, may be dismissed without evidence'. Unless propornot releases some data, it is no more than an 'opinion piece' at best.

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16. ### Hama NeggsSenior Member

Here is a nice vid on how a certain bit of bad science on AGW has proliferated across the net due to bloggers repeating false claims based on stuff they don't understand and didn't vet. Don't know how to synopsize it, so I won't try.

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18. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

I don't think "Pizzagate" is really connected to fake news, as such. It's a "theory" (and I use the term loosely) that emerged organically from 4chan and Reddit witch-hunts, rather than a planted propaganda story.

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I'm not sure the origin is that important, it got picked up and repeated by various fake news outlets, so it's fake news now, regardless of how it started.

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20. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

On that note, @Mick West, are you planning to address any of the Pizzagate claims, or are they too vague for Metabunk? (There are some concrete claims that can be debunked, such as James Alefantis being a false name, etc)

I have no plans, the story already has sufficient coverage. If there's something substantive that follows the posting guidelines, and has not been debunked elsewhere, then maybe.

22. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

I did not see anyone claiming there is a "link of any kind between Russia and any of the "fake news" sites listed" , the studies and claims deal with how some alternative news sites share and re-post fake stories that originated from Russia's propaganda apperatus, and examines the possible motivations behind sharing those stories.

A couple of the websites on the list are run by well known conspiracy promoters, Mike Adams (NaturalNews) and Alex Jones (Infowars), both who make appearances on RT (Russia Today), which is one of Russia's state Sponsoned propaganda outlets. These men get to promote their own websites that share fake news stories from RT.

Here are the links to the studies and with very little effort a Google search will provide more coverage from News outlets that provide sources and citations to back up their stories of Russia using propaganda to influence public sentiment (as is done by many other governments, including in the US and elsewhere).

Link to Rand Corp study Titled:

The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model
Why It Might Work and Options to Counter It

Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
23. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

adrian chen and Bellingcat weigh in

24. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
25. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

other than the 4 "links" ( i clicked one but didnt see the story on the archive page there), that story is not data. data is link me to the 91 stories. then tell me how many stories total the Drudge Report posted in 2016.

(satan worship rises in the US... )

26. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

What is the claim that has been made that you feel is bunk and why do you feel that it is bunk (did you expect the story to link to all 91 RT stories and all 22 Sputnik stories?) and how is that relevant to the topic of the thread, which is about 'how fake news goes viral'?

, there are a number of links in that piece that illustrate many of the times that the Drudge Report has done as the headline claims.

Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
27. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

it doesnt. Youre the one that quoted Adrien Chan and then provided a "mediamatters" story as if that was the data he was requesting.

proponot's unproven assertions going viral is a nice example of how any news goes viral. Pick a headline that plays to people's emotional biases and they will spread it regardless if the content is "iffy", bunk or sounding like a conspiracy theory webpage.

28. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

Sorry, I looked through my posts and do not see where I cited 'Adrien Chan' . As to my posting of the mediamatters link, that was in response to your own post where you cited 'Content from external source':

Since I didn't find the details in the part of the report that they released I looked for other sources for verification or not that "Drudge Report was a Russian-propaganda outlet" and they do seem to have echoed Russian propaganda according what I found.

I had posted the link I found when I searched for info about whatever study or details have come out about the propornot methodology in post 22. Please cite what assertion they had made that you call an unproven assertion.

I am seeking to understand what you feel they have claimed that it disputable and have the reference provided to the assertion.

From their website this is their assertion

I did not go through the entire list of websites and confirm the assertion, but of the few that I have looked at in the past... yes, those have 'reliably echoed Russian propaganda'.

Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
29. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

this was adrien talking in his article.

the dispute is they provide no actual data. they list their 'methodology' (which is ridiculous in the first place) but then just announce (paraphrased) 'we find Drudge report (for ex) meets these criteria'.

and we just have to take their word for it. ex. what do you mean by "reliably"? what do they mean by "consistently"?
Basically if a conspiracy theorist wrote that report (which they did), you would toss it for not providing actual data. That's all i'm saying.

And if you think i'm going to "do the research yourself" (which is what every good CTer says and 'fake news outlet' expects of it's readers, knowing full well they won't), they've got another thing coming.

30. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

Thank you for the clarification. That was not me who provided that excerpt from Adrien, actually you had introduced that content from an external source in post #23 without citation or rationale how that is relevant to the thread's topic and then you said in post #27 that I "quoted Adrien Chan" which you stated was why you introduced that content when I inquired why you provided that quote in post #23. Not knowing what particular instances propornot had found from Drudge that led to their inclusion on the list, I then provided a mediamatters article that goes into the many instances where Drudge echoed Russian propaganda in response to the quoted query you posted. I do not know if the 'monitoring report' that they put out was just a preliminary release of what they found, with the full data set to be released at a later time.

Since they have called it a report and they did not (yet) provide all their data since the release of their report last Saturday, I looked into the what the definition of a report is and whether a report would also have the full data set and that does not seem to be a requirement:

Report Definition from Massey University website

Having them release their data if they want to publish this for peer review would be required. I also have to say that based on my own experience/observations (anecdotally), I've noticed that of the websites on the list that I had been to previously have echoed and cited fake News stories/Propaganda on RT. If there is an instance on the list that is an exception they offer to retract the name.

The part about "...and resolves to help do something about it" I do not care for, since whether or not an outlet's operators "understand" all that stuff, has no bearing upon whether the websites on the list, have or have not, on multiple occasions cited Russian propaganda.. If I do not see evidence of an instance where a name on the list doesn't conform to their own criteria for being on said list and they do not retract the name, then I have no reason to doubt them.

Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
31. ### LeiferSenior Member

Sites listed on the PropOrNot "list", often highlight and describe "trending" stories, whether they are true or not.
If a website uses "weak (or second-hand) sources"......it's the result of the social web's unfortunate way of "Chinese Whispers".
......or, that it is trending as truth.

Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
32. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

This is reminiscent of how Conspiracy Promotion websites seem to cross-link to one another and Facebook and YouTube web pages that share their bunk, generating more hits that also has the effect of selling advertising space for more .

In The Guardian

33. ### SR1419Senior Member

It doesnt help when the person selected to be National Security Advisor- Michael Flynn- (and his son) is also propagating the fake news. I find this to be really troubling.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/michael-flynn-conspiracy-pizzeria-trump-232227

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34. ### MikeGSenior Member

It was somewhat heartening to see that Michael Flynn was fired by the incoming administration.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/u...e-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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35. ### Critical ThinkerSenior Member

When a person with a large following spreads fake news and conspiracy theories on social media (Debunked: Kylie Jenner's Chemtrail Meme Tweet)(An unsubstantiated theory suggesting a Monsanto pesticide caused an uptick in microcephaly births in Brazil reached a tipping point when it was promoted by George Takei) (Rosie O'Donnell 9/11 Conspiracy Comments: Popular Mechanics Responds), it exposes wider audiences to the misinformation. Sometimes the person will spread the fake news because they are a 'true believer' and in other instances it is in order to make 'political hay' to advantage themselves or to slime/disadvantage another and create fear/anger/distrust (All of Donald Trump’s Birther Tweets). Sometimes for multiple reasons, in the case of the website, The Antimedia ('alternative News'), which is run by an anarchist Nick Bernabe, we can see where there is an ideological and a profit motive for promoting anti-government fake stories and grows its readership by demonizing the Mainstream Media.

Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
36. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

and then the Washington Post publishes more conspiracy theories with no debunks attached, just in case some of us didn't know the IRS might target Christians, that noone at Columbia remembers Obama attending or that Antonin Scalia died with a pillow on his face.

They are what? Like the 3rd largest paper in America?

37. ### MikeGSenior Member

I thought that the Washington Post did a good job of breaking down “Pizzagate” from its origins to the present day.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/loca...t-852pm:homepage/story&utm_term=.92d2d7b48d74

The comment on bots also caught my attention.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/loca...t-852pm:homepage/story&utm_term=.92d2d7b48d74

Interesting to see what might make fake news viral.

The topic of bots has appeared in other threads, but might be worth another that is more focused.

https://www.metabunk.org/government-russian-paid-trolls.t6352/#post-155713

38. ### TrailblazerModeratorStaff Member

It reminds me of the "Columbian Chemicals" hoax from a couple of years ago. https://www.metabunk.org/government-russian-paid-trolls.t6352/page-2#post-156050

If you search that hashtag, it was spread by bots with pop-music themed names, in poor English and often an overt link to Russia in the handle, eg:

It did make me wonder, if they were really Russian troll bots, why include Russia in the handle?

39. ### deirdreModeratorStaff Member

or fact.

Dont get fixated on that one so called "report" and their bias-driven list of sites. Plenty of MSM sources are calling it out. Even the Wp 'printed' an article (s) calling it out as [nothingness].
This thread is about actual fake news, not whether a site happens to post an article or two that doesnt completely demonize Russa or doesnt sing the praises of Clinton/Obama.

Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
40. ### GreylandraMember

Sorry let me clarify. The thread is regarding how fake news goes viral. Well it's gotta get there somehow. Where do you suspect that picture I've posted might lead someone looking for more context? Wikileaks? The podesta emails? The "Fake news that must not be named"? This is intentional. You can't start people down the rabbit hole of all encompassing skepticism by initially discussing satanic pedophile rings!