Tag Archives: Putin

11Feb/17

Should We Worry About…Fake News?

“Fake News”…the social media phenomenon of 2017. But what exactly is classed as fake news? How do you spot it? And should we be worried about it?

Fake news websites (also known as hoax news) deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news – often using social media pages and accounts to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. The vast majority of these websites are monetized by ads, usually Adsense and other methods (usually by using an accompanying video which is itself monetized on Youtube)

It is important to distinguish between actual fake news sites and  news satire sites,such as the Rochdale Herald, Newsthump etc.

News satire sites, whilst walking a thin line between comedy and fake news, are the polar opposite of a fake news website.

Fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial (not to say that satire sites are not monetized as well), political, or other gain.  Such is the perceived threat from these sites that world leaders have felt the need to pronounce about them.

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday against the power of fake news on social media to spur the rise of populists, after launching her campaign for a fourth term.”
Read More Here:

In the UK Labour MP Michael Dugher was assigned by the Labour Party Deputy Leader Thomas Watson in November 2016 to investigate the impact of fake news spread through social media.   Watson said they would work with Twitter and Facebook to root out clear-cut circumstances of “downright lies”. in an article for the Independent Watson  suggested methods to respond to fake news. Conservative MP, and Minister for Culture Matthew Hancock, stated the British government would investigate the impact of fake news and its pervasiveness on social media websites.

Pressure from the UK, the EU, the USA and other Governments has led to social media giants, Google, Twitter and Facebook promising to tackle fake news on its platforms. Google first updated its policy saying that the company will try to ban sites that “misrepresent, misstate (sic), or conceal information.” Websites who don’t comply with this rule will get banned from using Google AdSense.  Facebook, has also updated its policy to rule out fake news sites from using Facebook Audience Network. More:

German politicians want to go a step further than this, Thomas Oppermann, who leads the SPD in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, Speaking with “Der Spiegel” magazine, Oppermann said that harsh punitive measures were necessary in order to make social networks

Thomas Oppermann SPD (picture-alliance/dpa/A.Jensen)
shoulder their share of the burden. He suggested a fine of 500,000 euros ($522,000) if websites such as Facebook didn’t remove harmful material within one day of being notified of it.
So, Governments and social media sites are making moves to prevent fake news, but just how worried should we be about it? And what effect does it have in the real world? 
Fake news can start of innocently enough, a post on Twitter or Facebook. But occasionally these posts can go viral. The New York Time’s noted this particular incident last November (2016). 

A simple enough post. Man spots buses lined up and jumps to the conclusion that it was Hilary supporters being ferried in to demonstrate against Trump during the election. The post was by a certain Eric Tucker, and this seemingly innocent mistake fuelled a worldwide conspiracy theory — one that Trump gleefully joined in promoting.

The post was quickly picked up by fake news sites.

All of this seems harmless enough, except that even though it was thoroughly debunked, a great many people still believe it to be true. 
This is just example of how fake news can accidentally be created. But what happens when fake news is specifically created for more sinister purposes?  To try to influence an election? Promote extremist views? vilify an entire race/religion? 
People familiar with the hate group Britain First on Facebook will know that it is mostly known for its spread of repackaged viral memes online and spinning stolen news articles for its own advantage. Many people forwarding these memes are unaware of the origins of these posts, and thus misinformation and disinformation are spread abound.  What is concerning is that, most people who read the fabricated stories on Facebook — such as the widely-circulated hoax meme that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump — actually believed them.
And now we come to Mr James Dowson, head Coconut Tapper at Knights Templar International.
Jim Dowson, described by The Times as an “inveterate agitator” and “the invisible man of Britain’s far right”.  Dowson himself advocated Britain’s exit from the EU and has expresses admiration for the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Dowson has made it his mission, according to messages posted on one of his sites, to
spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and sound bites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning,” in the same way that Dowson “made deft use of social media … to promote [his] work and convey an impression of mass following”, according to the New York Times.
Thankfully, it seems that Dowson’s fake new sites have been closed down (but not the mouthpiece of Nick Griffin KTI page). But this is a man who advocates a war against Islam, has links to Russia,  the Syrian regime and neo-Nazi paramilitaries throughout Europe (and further).

Even during the 2015 conservative (read Nazi) forum in Russia,  Dowson stated:

“We have the ability to take a video from today and put it in half of every single household in the United States of America, where these people can for the first time learn the truth, because their own media tell lies, they tell lies about Russia,” Mr. Dowson said then.

“We have to use popular culture to reach into the living rooms of the youth of America, of Britain, France, Germany, and bring them in,” he said. “Then we can get them the message.” Video

 

Dowson and his Knights Templar use of fake even prompted an investigation by Channel 4 News for its Fake News Week series 10/02/2017.

Obviously, it is impossible to tell just how much fake news influenced the US election and helped to put the Tangerine Toddler into the most powerful office in the world. But it is potential links to fake news sites and Putin that are the most concerning.

Some analysts see the hallmarks of Russian interests and far-right agitators in Europe and the United States.  Alina Polyakova, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan international affairs institute in Washington believes that fake news.

“Messages seep into the mainstream, they may have been extreme or fringe at one point in time, but they have been incredibly influential in shaping people’s views about key geopolitical events in a very specific direction.”

 “Moscow specifically encourages and facilitates the spreading of propaganda through proxies”

 

Even the term Fake News has begun to be abused. Comment after comment on social media news articles from MSM sites states “FAKE NEWS!!!!”; in todays Post Truth world it seems that fake news is believed by many people to be anything they disagree with.

The President of the United States is at it:

That was a fake Tweet Mr President….

Should we be worried about fake news? It is too soon to tell really. What is worrying is the the ability of people with sinister motives, backed by money (and possibly by foreign powers) being able to shape the public conscience.

And never forget…

¡No Pasarán!

 

11Jan/17

Trumps #Watersportsgate denials – Checked

After the breaking of the #Watersportsgate scandal by Buzzfeed, The Tangerine Toddler, Umpa Lumpa Elect, Donald J Trump has given his first press conference. Where more denials as to his actual involvement with Russia were aired.

The Trumper has been tweeting away madly for most of the day, a full on frenzy of denials.

That moment the President Elect sided with Russia over his own Intelligence Agencies

We decided to dig a little deeper.

First there was this:

Fair enough, except the source Donald used was from an actual fake news site called Lifezette. The owner of said website, Laura Ingraham, being a close Trump ally and in consideration for the plumb job of Trump’s White House press secretary.

Here’s the Intercept on LifeZette in Nov:

So the Trumper used a fake news site to debunk what he calls fake news, and a site owned by a very close ally.

Then there was his retweet of Michael Cohen. This was supposed to further Trump’s case as Cohen was named in the dossier.

This does seem to be true, as it may well have been another Chen. BUT, during Trumps press conference, the Donald denied ever knowing or having met  a certain Carter Page. Except this is not actually true, as the Guardian noted.

Which is odd, why the denial now?

Then there are his denials of ANY business dealings with Russia whatsoever.

He was stating this at the time when the allegations of Russian hacking to aid his campaign was the main headline news.

“Trump said any inference that a connection exists between the two is absurd and the stuff of conspiracy. “I have ZERO investments in Russia,” he tweeted after the Democratic National Committee was apparently hacked by Russia and the emails released by Wiki Leaks on the eve of the DNC convention to nominate Clinton as its 2016 presidential candidate.” Read More.

“The reason they blame Russia is they are trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know about Russia, but not about the inner workings. I have no business there and no loans from Russia. I have a great balance sheet.” — Donald Trump

But there is mounting evidence that Trump actually does have business dealings with Russia. The Washington Post  reported that at a real estate conference in New York in 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,”

In fact, 3 of Donald’s advisors all have financial and business ties to Russian financiers:

Are there anymore links to Trump and Russia?

Well, there is his lawyer, Sherri Dillon, who talked through most of the conference.

Sheri Dillon is a partner at the global law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, headquarters in Philadelphia, however Sheeri, works in Washington, D.C.

In May 2016, this law firm was named Russia Law Firm of the Year, and just happens to have an office in Moscow.

Although if you try and load that page now you get this:

But working for Trump must be like inviting your very own DDOS

Dillon works primarily with wealthy individuals, extremely wealthy individuals on controversial tax matters, according to her profile at Morgan Lewis. Also she is an expert in IRS audits. coincidentally  Trump states that he the IRS audit he is currently under going as a reason he cannot release his tax returns.

So another link to Russia then…

At least Trump has now admitted, during the conference, that it was Russia that hacked the USA during the election.

Which is a major U-turn, considering his vehement denials.

And even some of Trumps own cabinet choices have had to admit that it was Russia that was behind the hacking.

It is a “fair assumption” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind US election hacks, secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson has said.

The former CEO of Exxon Mobil told his Senate confirmation hearing the intelligence report on Russian tampering “clearly is troubling”.

His comments came after Senator Marco Rubio pressed Mr Tillerson to admit Mr Putin’s role in the cyber-breach.

Mr Tillerson’s reported good ties with Mr Putin have alarmed some in the US. Source BBC

Oh another Trump pick with ties to Putin.

So far Trumps denial of the the scandal, when checked, seem not hold much water. He does have links to Russia, his advisors have links to Russia, he cites a fake news source owned by a close ally, who has links to Russia, as proof that the claims are false.

What the real truth is, only time will tell.

¡No Pasarán!