False news stories gain wide currency

BuzzFeed News compiled a list of 17 and counting reports spreading false and unverified accounts about Iran’s missile attack aimed at U.S. forces in Iraq. Many involve images from other events at other times and countries but claim to be about the Iraq attack. Others are factually incorrect including reports of casualties and of Americans receiving draft notices. (BuzzFeed News, January 8, 2020, by Jane Lytvynenko and Craig Silverman)

The doctored Biden video depicting a racist comment by the presidential candidate spread first by conservative writers with large numbers of followers. It then went to 4chan, Facebook and Reddit with both left and right groups taking it up. The video then was embedded in the mainstream news sites, making it even more impervious to correction. (The New York Times, January 7, 2010, by Nick Corasaniti)

Drawing from the News Literacy Project, Valerie Strauss (The Washington Post, January 7, 2019) describes two lessons the project offers to students and teachers on misleading news . The first concerned the falsehood on social media that Democrats wanted the U.S. flag flown at half-mast after the assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani. The second was about the Biden video clip falsely showing him making a racist remark.

For related FAC coverage, click here, here and here.