When Pakistan won the Twenty20 international cricket tournament in 2009, Pakistanis in London were delighted. Here’s what one street party looked like:
Now, here’s a screenshot from one second in, with a timestamp clearly visible. Compare it to the image at the top of this story:
So there’s really no excuse for Paul Golding, self-described “resolute and obstinate British patriot and Christian,” leader of Britain First, a group which is, it maintains, not racist (they have a video explaining why) to post the 2009 video, claiming that the crowd was actually celebrating this week’s shooting in Paris.
Not racist, though. Got it, Paul.
(Hat tip to HuffPo.)
So, why pay any attention to Alex Jones?
The Infowars.com founder, who spends much of his on-air time in a state of bug-eyed rage, is an inexhaustible source of inflammatory false claims: that former U.S. president Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are demons who “smell like sulfur,” that the Sandy Hook school massacre never happened (which has led his followers to threaten and harass parents of the murdered children) and the 9/11 attacks were a fabrication.
Jones also takes his clothes off to emphasize his points, as in this video.
Jones is one of the more successful parts of the alt-right media ecosystem, along with Breitbart News. Former Brietbart CEO Steve Bannon was named White House chief strategist in January. Jones also has links to Trump — during the Republican primaries, the candidate told Jones “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.” Jones claims to talk to Trump regularly.
(Trump has claimed that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks, a claim that there is no evidence for and that appears to have been invented.)
This week, we got an unexpected, if confused, glimpse into Jones’s private life as a child custody case between him and his ex-wife was heard in a court in Austin, Texas.
Kelly Jones claims that the on-air Jones — shouty, table-pounding, bullying Jones — is much like the private Jones, and that, among other things, he had coped with the stresses of family counselling by taking off his clothes.
Alex Jones’s lawyers argued that his on-air persona is that of a “performance artist,” an awkward claim for someone whose approach is that of a straight-talking Everyman.
Jones, for his part, seemed to immediately undermine it:
In fake news news:
- France is being hammered with fake news in the lead up to first-round presidential elections on Sunday, Oxford University researchers report. Many Twitter accounts linked to Russia which were promoting Donald Trump last year have now switched to France, they say. Facebook recently suspended 30,000 accounts in France which it thought were automated; many were spreading fake news and propaganda.
- Social media debates about immigration in Sweden are dominated by “weaponized narratives” which are “amplified by networks of conspiracy theorists, bloggers, trolls and bots,” the Sydney Morning Herald argues. The answer, there and elsewhere: a healthy civic culture.
- Did a husband and wife discover they were actually siblings after taking DNA tests? It would have been a great story, but since you’re reading about it here you can probably guess the answer. Several real, and otherwise sensible, media outlets fell for it, though. At Buzzfeed, Craig Silverman explains why the hoax was as successful as it was: it started in the Mississippi Herald, one of a series of fake news sites named as if they were traditional newspapers. Silverman, tracing the AdSense code on the Mississippi Herald site, found five more authentic-sounding “news” sites that haven’t yet been used to propagate fake news.
- A U.S. poll showed that most people trust news they read on Facebook “only a little” or “not at all.” If this means that discussion of fake news is causing people to grow better filters, it’s probably a good thing.
- Just over a third of British teachers say their students have unwittingly cited fake news in assignments. They turn the problem into a teachable moment, but call it “worrying.”
- Voters need to be alert for fake news, FBI director James Comey warned this week. “People need to be aware of the possibility that what they’re reading has been shaped by troll farms,” he said.
- Disinfo Review, an online publication run by the European Union, says that “… after every terror attack, the reaction is sadly the same. Pro-Kremlin outlets all over Europe start spreading conspiracy theories.” They cite dozens of examples.