Here’s what’s happening in the very real world of fake news this week:
- POLITICO reports that the Russians are up to the same type of fake news disinformation campaign that they (allegedly) did in 2016, this time targeted at some of the major Democratic presidential candidates — Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, along with former Representative Beto O’Rourke. The campaign, using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, involves the “dissemination of memes, hashtags, misinformation and distortions of [the candidates’] positions.” The goal apparently is to “sow discord and chaos within the Democratic presidential primary.” Scary stuff, and a sign that the cyberpropanda and fake news wars are ongoing. Read more at POLITICO.
- You may have seen this meme, as it’s been shared close to a half million times on Facebook: “Why do Seniors on Social Security have to pay for Medicare and a Supplemental Ins. And the illegals get it all for free?” This is misinformation at its best. Not only do seniors not have to pay for basic Medicare Part A coverage, those living in the country illegally are not eligible for those benefits. FactCheck.org debunks the meme here.
- Here’s a fake news story being spread by Breitbart, the Daily Caller, Fox News, and various social media posters. In the story, the boyfriend of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is supposedly on the Congresswoman’s payroll, a nice bit of alleged nepotism. However, that is not the case. The story started when it was discovered that Riley Roberts, the Congresswoman’s boyfriend, had a mail.house.gov email address; it was then assumed that meant he was paid staff. The reality is more mundane. It seems that many family members, spouses, and partners of our representatives are given House email accounts for the innocent purpose of being able to view the House member’s calendar. It’s as simple as that, but blown into a big fake news story wafting across right-wing media. Read all about it in the Washington Post.
- Speaking of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, haters continue to spread baseless rumors and innuendo about the freshman Congresswoman. Some of these take the form of doctored photos, such as this one that purports to show Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in college, held up by a friend with her legs spread. As you can see, the photo is obviously Photoshopped, with the Congresswoman’s face superimposed on that of the original subject (a woman named Amanda Wenk, if you’re at all interested); the color of the clothing has also been altered, to make it appear more salacious. It’s all fake, as Snopes reports here.