News site says “truth not the goal” - 24th February 2020

A new Facebook page covering local news in North Carolina has been exposed as fake news. It’s a clear example of disinformation.

North Carolina is vital to success in the 2020 US elections. In under a month, the page has attracted over 50,000 followers. However, it has also raised concerns that the stories were not true.

Page administrators have stated that they’re students at North Carolina State University. They claim that the page is part of a social media project researching how quickly news can travel. However, they went on to say “truth was not the goal,” and they want “to get President Trump reelected”.

The university rejected these claims and accused Russian bots of running the page.

The page is tagged as ‘satire’ to avoid Facebook fact-checkers looking at posts. Although the page content uses real news stories, they are very old. Instead of local news, stories cover the whole of the US. Some news stories try to create racial divisions.

Dr Claire Wardle, a disinformation expert, is keen to learn how the page has attracted so many followers. She is unsure, however, whether the page is run from Russia or America. It could be the work of “an American who wants to cause trouble.”

Posts on the page include one about a woman who gave birth to 18 babies in one pregnancy and another about cases of coronavirus in North Carolina.

Facebook is “actively looking into” the page.

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