Story on faked ESPN site claims supplement gives LA Kings’ Drew Doughty near-magic powers
LA Kings defenceman Drew Doughty has taken some hits on the ice in the last year or so.
Oilers left winger Patrick Maroon got a two-game suspension this week for an illegal check against Doughty, which followed another two-game suspension for the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk for an elbow to Doughty’s jaw last March. Doughty also has a history of concussions.
So hockey, a rough game, hasn’t been gentle with Doughty. But neither has a shameless fake news scam involving a forged version of the ESPN site, claiming that Doughty “is under investigation by the NHL.”
“The real reason will surprise you,” the fake ESPN site claimed. But the real reason didn’t surprise us at all because we documented the same scam back in October when it targeted Sidney Crosby.
The Doughty story has the same structure: 1) An NHL player is in trouble with the league. Why? 2) Because he takes a supplement called Alpha Force Testo, which gives him near-magical powers, which is unfair to other players; 3) Fake-ESPN tries out Alpha Force Testo, in a spirit of journalistic rigour, being careful to say they were once skeptics themselves, this being a familiar device. 4) Will not surprise you in the least: the reporter experiences a complete body makeover in four weeks with no effort at all. “Actually, everyone at ESPN is kicking themselves for not having volunteered to be the guinea pig.”
Losing weight and getting fitter normally involves some level of effort and self-denial. (“The reason why most [diets] fail, in our opinion, is that they impose unrealistic restrictions on how you live your life.”) But Alpha Force Testo burns fat and builds muscle with no effort at all, other than remembering to ingest the product.
How does it accomplish this? Well, magic, more or less, as far as we can tell. What’s in it? They’re a bit vague about that, other than saying that “the powerful ingredients spread throughout your body, optimizing your levels of free testosterone.”
And how did we find out about this? Because ads linking to one version or another of the story keep cropping up on our site (see below). We block them as we see them, but it’s a cumbersome, whack-a-mole kind of process. If you see another, please screenshot and let me know.
In fake news news:
- There are lots of inflammatory details in Michael Wolff’s book about the Trump White House. Is one of them an account of how the newly installed president demanded a “gorilla channel” on his TV, had aides cobble one together by editing together all the liveliest parts of documentaries about gorillas, and now contentedly watches it for 17 hours a day? Since you’re reading about it here, you can probably guess the answer.
- At Buzzfeed: a roundup of 2017’s top fake news stories, as measured by Facebook engagements. The list covers only completely fabricated stories, not “false insinuations, misreported news, or partisan misrepresentations of real events.” Of the top 10, five have to do with male or female genitalia.
- Is the term “fake news” useful? Over the past year or so, its meaning has blurred from describing a clear-cut fabrication to anything the speaker wants it to mean, including being a tool to dismiss an unwelcome news report without engaging its actual substance. Craig Silverman, who helped popularize it, now says he cringes whenever he hears the term. “I should have realized that any person, idea or phrase — however neutral in its intention — could be twisted into a partisan cudgel,” he reflects.
- Vice interviews Laura Rosenberger, one of the creators of the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, which tracks what Russian-linked social media accounts are talking about. “We see that they do a couple of different things, but the most common thing that they do is try to amplify and push content that is divisive,” she explains. “They try to pit Americans against one another and pull people to extremes.”
- Buzzfeed looks at a network of dozens of Facebook sites which use a variety of attention-getting tactics, some involving fake news, to drive traffic to a site that sells a grab-bag of stuff and dubious gadgets, ranging from “Mofajang Japanese Coloured Hair Wax” to a “USB Earphone Case Digital Organizador Waterproof Double Layer Cable Storage Bag Electronic Organizer Gadget Table Mat.”
- A reporter in India bought access to Aadhaar, the country’s national identity database for 500 rupees (about $8). The data, which covers 1.2 billion people, includes fingerprints, birth dates, addresses and iris scans.
- Australian researchers took a deep dive into anti-vaccination subcultures on Facebook. Among the findings: participants are nearly all women, beliefs were based on conspiracy-theory logic (“users … not only morally outraged about the practice of vaccination, but structurally oppressed by seemingly tyrannical and conspiratorial government and media”) and groups are fairly loose-knit.
- U.S. and British academics studied the online habits of 2,500 Americans in the period around the 2016 U.S. election. Some visited fake news sites, but their diet was lighter than expected. Trump supporters, and people over 60, were more likely to seek out fake news than Clinton supporters. (There may be a circular relationship at work — more was created for them.) The New Yorker concludes that ” … most Americans are better informed and less gullible than you might think. That, in turn, suggests that fighting ‘fake news’ is not the solution, or perhaps even a solution, to our current political problems.”
- Dramatic images and video have been published of protests in Iran. Most really were shot in Iran, but this video, which went viral, showed a large demonstration in Bahrain in 2011.
- Did Chelsea Clinton publish a historically illiterate tweet claiming that “Jews and Israel started in 1969”? No. The account claiming otherwise now says she deleted it. This is as good a time as any to revisit our explainer from May on how easy it is to fake a screenshotted tweet. (Try it — it’s educational.)
- Editors at Counterpunch, having been alerted to the fact that “Alice Donovan,” an occasional — and pro-Russian — freelance contributor may not in fact exist, tried to investigate. Could they prove Donovan existed? Could they prove she didn’t exist? “After weeks of probing, we learned much about Alice Donovan, but ended up knowing almost nothing about her.”
- And The New York Times looks at how ads bought by global warming deniers on Google appear at the top of searches about climate change. “The climate denialist ads are an example of how contrarian groups can use the internet’s largest automated advertising systems to their advantage, gaming the system to find a mass platform for false or misleading claims.” The ads aren’t search results, but look like they might be:
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.