For the last day of the last week in May, here are some of the highlights of what’s happening in the fake news world:
- More fallout from last week’s fake video of Nancy Pelosi (slowed down to make her appear drunk). Experts say this sort of doctored footage could just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. With deepfake technology ramping up, it’s becoming increasingly easy to create fake videos that make it appear that just about anyone is doing just about anything. Imagine a campaign (oh, say the upcoming 2020 presidential election) where fake videos appear to show candidates saying or doing things that are immensely repulsive. How do you tell the fake videos from the real ones? And what do you do when social media refuse to take down the fake ones -– such as Facebook and Twitter are doing with the fake Pelosi video? It’s the beginning of a wild ride, as examined by the Washington Post’s Cat Zakrzewski in her Technology 202 column.
- Journalist and NYU professor Ian Bremmer posted a joke tweet that “quoted” President Trump as saying “Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better President than Sleepy Joe Biden.” Like I said, it was a joke, but the fake quote was plausible enough, based on Trump’s past real utterances, that some didn’t see it as such. That included Mr. Trump, who tweeted in response:
@ianbremmer now admits that he MADE UP “a completely ludicrous quote,” attributing it to me. This is what’s going on in the age of Fake News. People think they can say anything and get away with it. Really, the libel laws should be changed to hold Fake News Media accountable!
So President Trump responds to a perhaps poorly conceived joke with a call to change the country’s libel laws to make it easier for the rich and famous to silence their critics. To his credit, Bremmer deleted the original tweet (“meant in jest”), apologized for the whole situation, and said that he “should have been clearer.” Did Trump make a mountain out of a molehill here? Is he so thin-skinned that he can’t take a joke? Or is he really so hell-bent on destroying all of his critics that he’s willing to change this country’s libel laws to do so? Slate examines the situation here.
- Have you seen this post circulating on Facebook? It makes the claim that:
fringe leftist are now advocating for cow fart bags to capture farts as a way to help prevent “global warming.” You can’t make this stuff up folks
Well, actually, you can make this stuff up because that’s exactly what the original poster did. No, “fringe leftist(s)” are not recommending the use of “cow fart bags” (and what is that?) to “capture farts.” That’s patently ridiculous. The picture used in this post is less ridiculous; it’s a real picture of a real cow with a real device attached so scientists could study the effect of bovine diet on the production of methane and other gases. It’s not capturing “cow farts.” Just more fake news, as detailed by our friends at FactCheck.org.
- Speaking of making stuff up, the fact-averse folks at World News Daily Report posted a story that claimed Houston police had arrested a man who said he had killed and eaten more than 30 people, including “23 pizza delivery men, 6 Jehovah Witnesses, (and) 2 postmen.” As with most “stories” in the WNDR, this one is total fiction; there is no such person as the Houston Cannibal Killer. It’s a total hoax, as debunked by Snopes.