Fake News — Smart People are Not Immune

“Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred. That is the end result of untruth. (…) This false but believable news is ‘captious’, inasmuch as it grasps people’s attention by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger and frustration.”

Pope Francis — January 24 2018

“If you think ‘Navy Seals’ sound fearsome, how about the ‘Soviet Battle Moose’? They’ve certainly been getting the media in Finland fired up – although a little basic journalistic fact-checking might have saved them from all the worry.”

Russia Today

The Finnish broadcaster Yle has famously reported that the Soviet Union ran a clandestine program to train moose as cavalry mounts in the 1930s. According to Yle, the Red Army had some 1,500 infiltration riders ready for the 1939 war with Finland. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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The story included amazing details!

“Stalin had postponed the start of the Finnish war to let the moose heat season pass, or that the animals could tell the Finnish language from Russian almost a kilometer away, and alert their riders to the presence of the enemy.”

“Most of the moose survived. Eventually, they scattered around the surrounding forests. However, they never forgot their military training. In the first post-war years, Finnish hunters suffered much during their encounters with these unusual animals during the hunting season. The moose, paying no attention to the roar of shots, ran directly towards the hunters and furiously attacked them, as they heard the Finnish speech.”

The Finnish journalists had based their story on an article published in the Russian version of Popular Mechanics.

The Popular Mechanics story was an ‘April fool’ prank printed in the April 2010 edition.

The piece gave away plenty of clues that it was a hoax and the last sentence of the article made it abundantly clear.

Примечание редакции: данная статья опубликована в апрельском номере журнала и является первоапрельским розыгрышем.

Editor’s note: this article was published in the April issue of the magazine and is an April Fool’s Day.

The Finnish journalists didn’t discover their blunder until weeks later.

This week, the government of Malaysia has proposed a new legislation to combat “Fake News”.  Offenders will face up to 10 years in prison. Question: Who will decide which stories are ‘Fake News’?

“The vague and broad definition of ‘fake news’, combined with severe punishments and arbitrary arrest powers for police, shows that this is nothing but a blatant attempt to shield the government from peaceful criticism,” the group’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez, said in a statement.

Malaysia’s National Union of Journalists said the bill could easily be abused to stifle the media, as it would give the government “unquestionable power” to remove articles deemed prejudicial to public order or national security. [Reuters]

Fake or True?

Can you tell if these famous pics are genuine?

US President Theodore Roosevelt riding a bull moose

Philippine Governor General William Howard Taft seated on water buffalo

Wrong, deer: Finnish media fall for ‘Soviet battle moose’ hoax

REFERENCES

Finnish media fall for ‘Soviet battle moose’ hoax, probed by regulator — RT

Malaysia seeks 10 year-jail terms for ‘fake news’ — BBC

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Fake News — Smart People are Not Immune

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