Moving On From Obviously Fake News To Plausibly Fake News Sites
from the did-the-Guardıan-really-write-that? dept
Fake news is old news now. The hope has to be that we have all become slightly more suspicious when we read astonishing stories online (well, we can hope). It also means that those peddling fake news have to work a little bit harder to make us fall for their tricks. Like this:
Fake articles made to look like they have been published by legitimate news websites have emerged as a new avenue for propaganda on the internet, with experts concerned about the increasing sophistication of the latest attempts to spread disinformation. Kremlin supporters are suspected to be behind a collection of fraudulent articles published this year that were mocked up to appear as if they were from al-Jazeera, the Atlantic, Belgian newspaper Le Soir, and the Guardian.
The Guardian report on this new development says that it’s not just a matter of getting the typography and layout right: even the domain names are similar. For example, the fake Guardian site’s URL replaced the usual “i” in Guardian with the Turkish “ı” — a tiny change that is easy to miss, especially when it’s in a URL.
What’s particularly problematic with these fake newspaper sites is that their domain names add an extra level of plausibility that make it more likely the lie will be spread by unsuspecting Internet users. Even when stories are debunked, the online echo of the false information lives on as people re-post secondary material, especially if legitimate sites are fooled and repeat the “news” themselves, lending it a spurious authenticity. Taking down the material can make things worse:
Ren TV, which has a history of producing pro-Kremlin content, did a piece portraying the removal of the article as a deletion by the Guardian of a true article, an angle also taken by an Armenian outlet following the fake Haaretz piece on the Azerbaijani first family.
In other words, deletion might be used as “proof” that powerful forces did not want people to see the “truth”. Even though the original is removed, the rumors and conspiracy theories might actually increase as a result. This latest evolution of fake news shows that we are still nowhere near to tackling the problem. Indeed, it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better — assuming they do.
Filed Under: fake news