Posted in fake news

When people appreciate fake news

It is not a coincidence that the Twitter logo is a bird and not a turtle.

After exceptional events such as a terrorist attack, an earthquake or an important political election, Twitter is the first place to go to find more information.

After I found out the news of the deadly Westminster attack, I was one of the people who decided to scroll the Twitter timeline before turning on the television.
Checking the main hashtag I saw several images of London tube announcement signs with hopeful messages for the Londoners written by tube employees.

After grave events, such as the murder of Jo Cox, underground staff often write encouraging messages on big whiteboards.

Between these reassuring messages  there was one -with a lot of “shares“- which read: “All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you.

I noticed in the pictures of this tube sign something weird and for a moment I thought it was fake because of its low quality.
Its font which looked unnatural (years and years spent on looking for hand-made fonts on internet as a video producer help me) and the fact that it was always the same picture with the same point of view.
But I quickly forgot that detail, deciding that it was better to focus more on the stories and the number of the victims.

Some hours later the image was revealed as a fake.
The person who created this picture is John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor who lives in London, so not a tube worker.
Moore used a tube-signs online generator (you can try it here) which has been already used several times in the last years, included after the stabbing at Leytonstone tube station.

It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured” said John Moore.
What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I’d seen, so that’s what I was actually talking about.

Before I found out that it was not a real underground sign, Moore’s post was shared more than 30,000 times.
It was read on BBC Radio 4 and it was described as a “wonderful tribute” by prime minister Theresa May.

What is interesting to underline is the fact that when most who had shared finally realized that the sign wasn’t real, the response was totally different from the expectations: the majority of them did not care about the fact checking and they still appreciated the post.

We need to consider the fact that fake news isn’t always fake news at the source,” said John Moore.

The post was shared by people looking for something able to inspire and unite them.

The need of the people to read what they want to read, and what they want to see caused a proliferation of fake news.

But, as we know, not all fake news are nice and pretty as this encouraging message.

For this we may hope that 2017 could be the year of the fact cheching (after the 2016 “post-truth” year) and the fact that tomorrow 2th april will be the First International Fact-Checking Day could be the first important step.



22 years old, SSU Journalism (exchange) student

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