Fake news this week: ‘Trucks full of illegals’ didn’t cast votes in Pennsylvania race
A conservative website falsely reported that “trucks full of illegals” voted in the special House election in southwestern Pennsylvania that saw Democratic candidate Conor Lamb score a shocking victory over Republican Rick Saccone this week.
The story published on the Daily World Update – a site that produces fake news clickbait and political trolling under the guise of “satire” – reports that “multiple trucks full of illegals” had been spotted at “six polling locations across Pennsylvania.”
“The fact that Lamb ‘won,’ even in deep red areas that support President Trump overwhelmingly, is suspicious on its own — but reports of voter fraud make things even more peculiar (especially the trucks full of illegals),” the story said. “Locals captured photographs of what appears to be multiple trucks full of illegals at not one, not two, not even three, but six polling locations across Pennsylvania. All of the locations were in areas Trump dominated in the 2016 election.”
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While Lamb did pull-off a razor-thin win in a district that Trump carried by nearly 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, there is no truth to the report, and the photos contained in the article, attributed to Breitbart, are stolen images that were taken in 2004 and 2008.
The Daily World Update is part of a network of well-known fake news sites, such as ladiesofliberty.net and shareotonin.com, which are run under the banner “America’s Last Line of Defense” and are owned and operated by author Christopher Blair, according to fact-checking website PolitiFact.com.
The story is meant to promote the myth that undocumented voters are undermining U.S. elections.
READ MORE: Donald Trump disbands voter fraud commission
Voter fraud, which several studies have found to be exceptionally rare, is also a favourite topic of President Donald Trump who has repeatedly alleged, without evidence, that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, delivering the popular vote to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Last January, Trump disbanded his controversial voter fraud commission, which critics also viewed as part of an attempt to distract from the ongoing investigations into Russian election meddling and potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides.
Elsewhere in fake news news:
- The parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich have filed a lawsuit against Fox News, saying they were never contacted by the network. “They never called us to check any facts. They took a rumor and ran with it,” Seth Rich’s mother Mary Rich told Good Morning America on Thursday. The 27-year-old was killed in Washington, D.C. in July 2016 in what police called a botched and random robbery. However, the May 2017 report, which Fox retracted but never issued an apology for, quickly fuelled online conspiracy theories that his death was related to party email leaks to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
- To combat the spread of videos promoting conspiracy theories, which often appear after tragic events, YouTube has announced it will begin displaying links to fact-based content alongside conspiracy theory videos. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki made the announcement this week during a talk with WIRED editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.
- No, Trump was not the first person Prince Harry invited to his wedding, which Trump had to politely decline. A satire site published the latest false accounts of public statements on invitations to the next royal wedding, falsely attributed quotes to the U.S. president. Another false story in recent months suggested Queen Elizabeth II had asked that former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama be left off the guest list.
- The Marshall Project and Vice teamed up for a new feature that reveals the conspiracy theories and myths held by inmates at prisons across the U.S. The Obamas being part of the Illuminati, aliens, and something called “Franking” are all part of a project reporting on what life is like for those who work and live in the criminal justice system.
- As part of a larger project to confront declining trust in the media, the BBC has launched an online game to help young people in the UK identify fake news. The interactive game allows players to navigate a breaking news story, making choices that affect accuracy and impact speed, while trying to avoid fake news.
- No, Matt Damon is not moving his family to Australia over a feud with President Donald Trump. The story went viral this week after being reported by the New York Post but was quickly refuted by Damon’s publicist, who told Boston.com that the rumours were false.
- President Donald Trump did not pressure two federal Muslim judges to resign, which was reported by the Ladies of Liberty website. The report, which was debunked by the Associated Press as false, said the president sent letters to the judges instructing them to quit unless they publicly denounced Sharia law.
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