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Wed Nov 29, 2017, 10:12 AM

Anatomy of a Fake News Scandal

A long and disturbing read highlighting the gullibility and ignorance of many citizens.

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The revelations overcame Edgar Maddison Welch like a hallucinatory fever. On December 1st, 2016, the father of two from Salisbury, North Carolina, a man whose pastimes included playing Pictionary with his family, tried to persuade two friends to join a rescue mission. Alex Jones, the Info-Wars host, was reporting that Hillary Clinton was sexually abusing children in satanic rituals a few hundred miles north, in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. Welch told his friends the "raid" on a "pedo ring" might require them to "sacrifice the lives of a few for the lives of many." A friend texted, "Sounds like we r freeing some oppressed pizza from the hands of an evil pizza joint." Welch was undeterred. Three days later, armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a .38 handgun and a folding knife, he strolled into the restaurant and headed toward the back, where children were playing ping-pong. As waitstaff went table to table, whispering to customers to get out, Welch maneuvered into the restaurant's kitchen. He shot open a lock and found cooking supplies. He whipped open another door and found an employee bringing in fresh pizza dough. Welch did not find any captive children Comet Ping Pong does not even have a basement but he did prove, if there were any lingering doubts after the election, that fake news has real consequences.

Welch's arrest was the culmination of an election cycle dominated by fake news and by attacks on the legitimate press. Several media outlets quickly traced the contours of what became known as Pizzagate: The claim that Hillary Clinton was a pedophile started in a Facebook post, spread to Twitter and then went viral with the help of far-right platforms like Breitbart and Info-Wars. But it was unclear whether Pizzagate was mass hysteria or the work of politicos with real resources and agendas. It took the better part of a year (and two teams of researchers) to sift through the digital trail. We found ordinary people, online activists, bots, foreign agents and domestic political operatives. Many of them were associates of the Trump campaign. Others had ties with Russia. Working together though often unwittingly they flourished in a new "post-truth" information ecosystem, a space where false claims are defended as absolute facts. What's different about Pizzagate, says Samuel Woolley, a leading expert in computational propaganda, is it was "retweeted and picked up by some of the most powerful faces of American politics."

The original Pizzagate Facebook post appeared on the evening of October 29th, 2016, a day after then-FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau would be reopening its investigation into Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state. Data from the server had been found on electronics belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner (the husband of Clinton's close aide Huma Abedin), who had been caught texting lewd messages to a 15-year-old. On Facebook, a user named Carmen Katz wrote, "My NYPD source said its much more vile and serious than classified material on Weiner's device. The email DETAIL the trips made by Weiner, Bill and Hillary on their pedophile billionaire friend's plane, the Lolita Express. Yup, Hillary has a well documented predilection for underage girls. . . . We're talking an international child enslavement and sex ring."

Katz's Facebook profile listed her residence as Joplin, Missouri. With a link to a story headlined "Breaking: Hillary Clinton strategy memo leaked: 'Steal yard signs,' " Katz posted, "You know how we handle yard sign theft or tampering in South Missouri? With a 3 prong garden hoe buried in the middle of the back." We found no record of anyone with the name Carmen Katz in the entire state. But searching through her online activity, we noticed another clue: Every time she posted petitions on Change.org, such as "Put Donald Trump's Face on Mount Rushmore," the last signer was invariably Cynthia Campbell of Joplin. Campbell used the same profile picture as "Carmen Katz" on Facebook that is, the same snapshot of the same cat.

<snip>

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/pizzagate-anatomy-of-a-fake-news-scandal-w511904

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Zorro Nov 2017 OP
Fred Sanders Nov 2017 #1
Dread Pirate Roberts Dec 2017 #2

Response to Zorro (Original post)

Wed Nov 29, 2017, 12:15 PM

1. RW media is vile and disgusting and only exists because of no hate speech laws.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Dec 1, 2017, 08:28 AM

2. That's an amazing article.

we're doomed because partisanship has robbed us of our critical thinking abilities. The internet has empowered every idiot with an agenda and a 1/2 a brain and the anti-intellectual right wingers are like a petri dish filled with viruses where this kind of disease can grow freely.

But Watts believes the Russians, at least, are playing for much higher stakes than one presidential election. "The goal is to create division between communities," he says. "It is making you not trust the state. It's eroding the mandate of elected officials so that they can't govern properly. It's making people want to not participate in democracy because they think it's corrupt. It's getting you to either believe that it's all stacked against you or you just opt out altogether because you don't know what to believe. When you don't know what to believe, you'll believe anything."

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