Fake News for the Week Ending October 11, 2019

The blog took last week off so there’s lots of catching up to do in the world of fake news news, starting with:

  • It was bound to happen. The Oxford English Dictionary just added an entry for the term “fake news.” Other new entries include “slam-dunk,” “promposal,” and “circle jerk.” Here’s OED’s tweet:
  • No, Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar did not propose a nationwide ban on bacon. Rest easy bacon lovers, it’s all fake news, as reported by FactCheck.org.

Omar Didn’t Propose ‘Nationwide Ban’ on Bacon

  • One long-standing subset of fake news is that of conspiracy theories. Well, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, put together a big packet of clippings containing various conspiracy theories regarding the 2016 election and gave it to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to do with as he would. That packet of lies and disinformation made it to the State Department inspector general, who passed it on to Congress for further investigation. Just one more day in the Trump administration, fueled by wild speculations and untruths. The Huffington Post digs the dirt on this one.
  • Speaking of conspiracy theories, Attorney General William Barr is apparently scouring Europe for “proof” of a conspiracy theory that claims an Italian professor worked on behalf of the American “deep state” to undermine Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The Washington Post has the story, and it’s a whopper.

Attorney General William P. Barr and President Trump arrive to deliver remarks at the White House on July 11. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Also from the Post, a great overview of a Senate report that details Russia’s use of fake news and social media to influence the 2016 election. It’s scary stuff, and there’s every indication that Russia will do the same and more in the upcoming 2020 election.
  • How will fake news impact the UK’s upcoming general election? The Guardian examines how the major social networks are preparing for it.
  • Ostensibly to battle the flood of fake news in that country, Singapore just enacted the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, which makes it illegal to spread “false statements of fact” where that information is deemed “prejudicial” to Singapore’s security, public safety, “public tranquility,” or to the “friendly relations of Singapore with other countries.” It smacks more of authoritarian censorship rather than anything else, and shows how battling fake news can have unintended (or, in this case, intended) consequences on free speech. CNN has the story here.
  • The flip side of that coin is that Malaysia just repealed that country’s law that criminalized the spread of fake news. Critics claimed the law, passed by the previous government, was actually designed to stifle anti-government dissent. The new government agreed and scrapped it. Al Jazeera reports.
  • With all the hubbub about deepfake videos possibly being used to confuse in the upcoming 2020 election, MIT Technology Review reassures us that nearly all deepfakes are being used to create pseudo-celebrity porn. Apparently there is hope for mankind.


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