Journalism

by Glyn Moody


Filed Under:
fake news



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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


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  • identicon
    Frank Cox, 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:36pm

    The Joy of Unicode

    The joy of Unicode in domain names.

    A boon and a gift to spammers and scammers and baddies of all description.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:50pm

      Re: The Joy of Unicode

      It was a terrible idea when support for unicode was added and it's an even more terrible idea now. Sometimes it seems those over at W3C have no clue.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        TKnarr (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re: The Joy of Unicode

        Unicode support is also a very necessary idea if you want web sites in countries other than English-speaking ones. Web browsers, however, should flag URLs that contain characters that're outside the Unicode range(s) used by your default locale.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 8:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: The Joy of Unicode

          the entire computing experience is to treat end users like the stupid ignorant idiots they are.

          they deserve it. I am tired of everyone feeling sorry for a bunch of people the expect everyone else to expend effort to protect them from their stupidity.

          Sorry, if you wish to remain an ignorant idiot you need to stop complaining every time you are taken for a ride.

          Browsers from day one should already have been making these security oriented features like the one you mentioned available. They should allow a user to region lock themselves at will, see every website participating in sending them data/ads and data mining them, storing cookies know what each website is using to spy on them with.

          But no, all the browser makers have been providing businesses access to your user data while simultaneously acting like they ever gave a fuck about your privacy.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 4:42pm

        Re: Re: The Joy of Unicode

        W3C endorsed DRM being built in to HTML5. Sometimes have no clue?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TKnarr (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:00pm

      Re: The Joy of Unicode

      Like 'I' and '1', or '0' and 'O'. Or the infamous "'", "`", "‘", "’" and "′".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      takitus (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:09pm

      Re: The Joy of Unicode

      >A boon and a gift to spammers and scammers and baddies of all description.

      And to the very large number of Internet users who do not speak English.

      Any character set can be used maliciously (consider similar ASCII characters like ‘1’ and ‘l’). Blaming this kind of spoofing on Unicode and the need to support non-Latin alphabets sounds a lot like linguistic chauvinism.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:26pm

        Re: Re: The Joy of Unicode

        One could say the possibility of nefarious activities resulting from its implementation should have been anticipated and provisioned for rather than simply tossing it out there and expecting everyone to just deal with it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:09pm

    Punycode

    Thanks for the reminder. I had seen this back in early April.

    If you are using Firefox then learn about ABOUT:CONFIG and the punycode toggle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:53pm

    "The hope has to be that we have all become slightly more suspicious "

    And if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:54pm

    The closer to the truth, the better the lie, and the truth itself, when it can be used, is the best lie.

    -- Foundation, Isaac Asimov

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    seedeevee (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:16pm

    Propaganda Radio

    Saw an transcript of some website claiming to be NPR that said there were no neo-nazis in Ukraine before the government was overthrown and it was just fake news.

    They sure made that website look believably real!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:24pm

    As if..

    As if the so called MSM hasn't been doing this kind of thing itself since just about forever.

    I offer you the Zinoviev Letter:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinoviev_letter

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:40pm

    What is really new?

    OK - so there may be some new techniques for spreading propaganda but the concept of fake news is itself fake news.

    Identifying your opponents' propaganda in this way is useful because it casts doubt over everything they say and helps to reinforce your own fake news.

    It's not an accident that the moment the fake news accusation was levelled at Trump he fired it straight back and made it seem

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 12:34am

    This is a great day for Techdirt!

    I would just like to complement Techdirt today on their shift towards being a better publication. For the first time, I have seen two sides of controversial issues presented for more than a few hours, without one side of the argument hidden from viewers (censored). It appears to me that the editorial policy is shifting for the better, and I would like to thank Mike for that. He will soon be receiving a public award for being the editor of Techdirt, and no doubt his editorial policy has been under review by a lot of people. Well, I've been reviewing it and documenting it quite extensively, that's for sure. It will likely be a key issue in his court case, he is the editor, after all, and the one who makes all these decisions. And now I see a change for the better, less censorship. Great move in the right direction, Mike, you have my sincere appreciation. If I could make a request, editor Mike, could you remove the sh*t word in articles, please? In the comment section, to each his own, but I think that would be another great change to remove it from the articles, especially the titles. Thanks again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 1:56am

      Re: This is a great day for Techdirt!

      I am impressed by the cognitive dissonance on display to congratulate the site for reducing censorship and yet to ask for it at the same time. Well done.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 2:26am

        Re: Re: This is a great day for Techdirt!

        Two very different things, right? Hiding comments, which Techdirt used to do to hide whole sections of the opinion landscape, and not using sh*t in articles or article titles. Most people don't use sh*t in their public articles, it's not really a censorship issue, it's more an issue of basic good taste, isn't it? Sh*t doesn't really add anything legitimate to an argument, except in the rarest of cases. There would be nothing legitimate lost without the sh*t.

        However, there are a lot of legitimate points of view lost with censorship (hiding comments), right?. And, I asked nicely, to the editor that actually makes the decision about these kinds of things. Most traditional media outlets support a "Letter to the editor", right? Even the failing New York Times doesn't resort to using sh*t, right? I don't read them actually, but you might know. Do they use sh*t as much as Techdirt does?

        Trust me, it's not really a censorship request, really, it's not. Everything can be said without resorting to sh*t, except for the most juvenile of minds.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 2:36am

          Re: Re: Re: This is a great day for Techdirt!

          I am even more impressed by your Trump impression.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 4:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: This is a great day for Techdirt!

            Thank you, I am impressed that Mike is opening up his heart and letting others voice their opinion and not censoring them (hiding their voice). Mike, I wonder if your heart is open enough to accept parody. You defend parody in the copyright sense, right? Do you allow parody on your web site? For example, here is a parody of Mike's acceptance speech at the EFF:

            First, you have to imagine how Mike is dressed. I recommend long leather boots, leather pants and a tweed jacket over the top of a black turtleneck. Maybe a riding crop in one hand. The lights go down, the crowd goes quiet, and he begins:

            "First, I'd like to thank the body of Techdirt, that wild stallion of a site that I sit astride every day, whipping left and right ceaselessly to enforce my editorial agenda. And by the body of Techdirt, I mean that group of individuals right here, in in center, sitting in their black clothes and covered in black masks. Stand up you guys, Stephen T. Stone, PaulT, and whoever else made it (can't tell who you are). Thank you for thrashing and bolting through all kinds of issues with your hatred and nonsense. Where would I be without you anonymous and hidden posters who fill Techdirt with sh*t?

            "Next, I'd like to thank the head of Techdirt (Techdirt Counter Intelligence) comprised of some of the same people and some that couldn't make it. They enforce my censorship policy ruthlessly while tracking anonymous posters to make sure this stallion trounces on any ideas that don't fit my agenda. Thank you guys.

            "Next, I'd like to thank the ass of Techdirt, Chip, MyNameHere, Out of the blue and Mr. No Emails Please. There they are, in the balcony, hmm. that's funny. They all look rich, educated, intelligent, and they're with really hot chicks with beautiful breasts. Wow. Anyway, you guys helped serve our purpose by willfully taking a whipping and persisting anyway. Thank you for your part.

            "Lastly, I'd really like to thank TCM (Traitor Chelsea Manning) for her spiritual advice, thank you, Chelsea. After some Buddhist reflection I see I have been working against my own interests in the most difficult of ways. I've been using my balls to make decisions, and where has it gotten me? I never get laid. So, thanks to TCM, goodbye balls, and I expect I'm going to get laid all the time after I switch sides. Chelsea does (wow does she!), and I can too, really, she promised she would introduce me. Thank you everybody, wish me well and call me Michelle.

            "Goodnight everyone, I love you. Kiss Kiss"

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 7:16am

      Re: This is a great day for Techdirt!

      Hahaha - pretty good one. I like the smell of humor in the morning, it helps me wake up.

      Anyways ... I am getting tired of the both sides bullshit. Disingenuous arguments have become so obvious and blatant that it is insulting. At least in the past they were a bit more discrete with their back room dealing.

      Intentionally glossing over details detrimental to one "side" or the other does not make one a better journalist or more patriotic - it makes one complicit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NoMoarSpyRing, 22 Aug 2017 @ 1:55am

    Any smart people left? Pakistani ISI SPY RING HELLO

    Nothing will ever be fixed in the United States or the WORLD until this Pakistani ISI SPY RING is stopped.

    Hey My state of CLAIFORNIA for example has TWO (2) ACTIVE SENATORS CARRYING BLACKBERRIES THAT ARE SPYING

    https://trello.com/b/RMx1r5dG/hillarys-hamlettruth-leaks-hcs-leakershackers-henchmenseries-54- 350-awan-spy-ring

    enough is enough

    https://www.youtube.com/user/georgwebb/videos

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 7:18am

      Re: Any smart people left? Pakistani ISI SPY RING HELLO

      "Nothing will ever be fixed in the United States or the WORLD"

      You should have stopped right there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 7:59am

    news this

    fake news works because investigative news is dead. everybody with a blog is a reporter now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 10:08am

      Re: news this

      News flash - it never did "work" for the masses, this is by design as it totally works for the rich elite ruling class.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2017 @ 12:43pm

    "Fake news" was coined by the establishment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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