Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Gott im Himmel

This rather sinister looking Facebook page 
set up by a group of University researchers is 
designed to mimic the notorious Nazi 
propaganda newspaper  of the 1930s 
"Völkscher Beobachter" (People's Observer).

Here in the UK we have British Fake News Network (bit of a clue in the name there) whose outrageous stories turn up on my Facebook page with depressing regularity accompanied by hysterical comments from people who have been fooled by them.

We can take some comfort that it's not only British social media users that fall for obviously fake stories from satirical websites. 

Please ignore the "Fake News" headline,
everyone else did.
This BBC report describes how a group of researchers from Hohenheim University in Germany set up a fake Facebook account, "Der Völks Beobachter" in order to post inflammatory news reports, including the one shown on the right which said that asylum seekers were getting free sex with prostitutes, funded by the local authority.

It isn't clear what it was they were actually researching unless it was the seemingly bottomless pit of human stupidity but whatever it was, they had a huge success with it, with their stories being read and shared thousands of times.

Even having a banner across the top of the page reading "Fake News" in large red letters didn't seem to put anybody off. Not that it should.

Stop nicking my stories
you bastards.
There is currently a debate in Germany about a recently introduced law which could fine social networks if they don't remove illegal hate speech or fake news. The new legislation doesn't make it at all clear what they mean by "fake news" and at the moment it could include articles posted by satirical websites such as The OnionThe Daily Mash, Southend News Network and of course, the aforementioned BFNN.

To be honest, I rather think that my old mate Joshua Bonehill-Paine (who I haven't spoken about for a while, what with him being banged up in the clink and all that), might have a claim for plagiarism, given that the stories on Der Völks Beobachter could have been lifted verbatim from the pages of The Daily Bale although, with the Daily Bale, you are actually supposed to believe them; as of course; many people did.

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