Displaying items by tag: fake news

Mariangela Alejandro, a history and politics student, was taught by professor Tim Hayward at Edinburgh University. But a few weeks into the course she complained, ‘He goes from talking about global financial markets and poverty into this realm of conspiracy theories about the Syrian president and Russia.’ Days after a maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed, Prof Hayward retweeted a Russian ambassador to the UN describing the attack as #fakenews. The tweet said the hospital had been controlled by the Ukrainian military, and no patients were there. In a lecture he outlined an argument that the renowned aid organisation the White Helmets may have helped fake a chemical attack in Syria. Russia has said the attack was staged. In March he and other academics were accused by MPs in the House of Commons of spreading misinformation about the Ukraine war. Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the Government would crack down hard on misinformation.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 20 January 2022 20:15

Anti-vaccine protesters

‘Sovereign citizen defence’ uses obsolete ancient law to challenge Covid regulations. They distribute fake legal documents to teachers, parents, and health workers outside schools and hospitals, accusing the Government of ‘vaccine genocide’. ‘Sovereign citizens' and ‘freemen on the land’ wrongly believe they possess legal power to bring politicians, civil servants and scientists before ‘common law courts’, claiming Covid restrictions and vaccinations are illegal. Now a newly-formed group, ‘Alpha Men Assemble’ (AMA), combines anti-vaccine and sovereign citizen beliefs. It trains members in ‘direct action’ in breaking through police lines, marching formations and sparring. They post training sessions online for UK members. Believing they are immune from government rules, they have violently confronted police in Australia and the US. UK’s AMA only started in December, but numbers swelled to 7,000 after a recent training session for recruits.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 25 November 2021 21:01

Nigeria: lawlessness and ‘fake news’

Luka Binniyat, a Christian journalist, faces three years’ imprisonment after reporting on attacks against Christian communities and critical assessments of the government’s response. He was arrested on 4 November and charged with electronically transmitting information ‘known to be false’. Many believe his arrest is aimed at silencing dissenting voices and intimidating Luka and Kaduna communities. Luka has persistently challenged the government on issues of security and killings in southern Kaduna. This charge follows his report on police failing to make any arrests after gunmen killed 35 people in two separate attacks on churches. He said, ‘In Nigeria, police decry massacres as “wicked” but make no arrests’. Pray for Luka’s release and for an end to criminalisation of journalism. Meanwhile bandits invaded Emmanuel Baptist Church, service killing two, seriously injuring three, and kidnapping 66. Rev Joseph Hayab said, ‘The abducted worshippers are in danger and require urgent government intervention.’ The insecurity in Kaduna state has grown beyond imagination and is threatening Nigeria’s peace.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 28 October 2021 21:36

Schools anti-vax protests

There have been anti-Covid vaccine protests outside 420 schools up and down the UK. The Association of School and College Leaders said it is not a fringe concern even though most protests stem from just two groups on the messaging app Telegram. One organiser has allegedly visited every secondary school in Hartlepool, and another group is coordinating multiple daily school visits from Kent to Cheshire. Protesters left Gateshead students distressed after showing them pictures of what appeared to be dead children. They target teachers with sham legal documents, and hand children leaflets with QR codes leading to extremist and conspiracy content. Some protesters think it is wrong to vaccinate children, or say the whole pandemic is a hoax. Sir Keir Starmer said it was sickening that protesters were spreading ‘dangerous misinformation’ to children, and wants exclusion zones set up around school gates.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 26 August 2021 20:45

Argentina: profound anti-Semitism

Argentines are far more anti-Semitic than they acknowledge and nearly 40% of the population believes that ‘Jewish businessmen’ are benefiting from the Covid pandemic. ‘In Argentina, we have a very distorted vision of ourselves’, said an award-winning columnist. ‘We think we are not anti-Semitic, but in many ways, this is an anti-Semitic country.’ He went on to say that myths about the Jews are part of Argentina's popular culture. The study’s main author was ‘surprised’ by the magnitude of antisemitic sentiment, particularly among younger people. Argentina is home to over 200,000 Jews, the largest community in Latin America.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 17 June 2021 21:58

Truth in the pandemic

Justin Welby said, ‘The world is facing a crisis of truth. Claims and counterclaims about the virus, vaccines and the effectiveness of government responses take centre-stage globally. Conspiracy theories circle the globe; misinformation causes repercussions. We need to learn to judge the information we receive, think critically and kindly, and act accordingly.’ There has been a rise in conspiracy theories, anti-vaccination campaigns and growing confusion as people question whether Covid-19 is really a threat. Social media stand accused of spreading misinformation faster than reliable facts and corrections. Is the vaccine safe? Are the statistics accurate? How likely am I to get Covid? The postmodern idea of all truth being relative falls far short of the mark when the truth can save your life.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 18 February 2021 20:55

Covid myth-busting video

A star-filled video urging people from ethnic minority communities to get the Covid vaccine is being shown across commercial TV channels amid growing concern that black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities in the UK are less likely to get vaccinated. Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, and Romesh Ranganathan are among the celebrities who feature in the video, which was first released online. More stars have been added to the TV version. The BBC’s charter prevents it from taking part, but the issue was raised on BBC TV and radio programmes on 18 February. The video coordinator said, ‘We are in unprecedented times, and this pandemic disproportionately affects people from ethnic minority communities.’ Fake news about the vaccine, which has been a particular problem in the South Asian community, is addressed in the #TakeTheVaccine video.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 28 January 2021 20:52

Christian MP’s anti-lockdown comments

Senior Christian Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne claimed that Covid-19 statistics were ‘manipulated’. In a November interview by a US anti-vaccine campaigner, he said, ‘Official data should not be trusted’. Also, he told the anti-lockdown group Save Our Rights UK that the figures of deaths being quoted were at a typical level for the time of year. They were manageable, and the UK had become ‘a police state’. He accused the Government of attempting to implement ‘social control’ through actions such as the mandatory wearing of face masks. Michael Gove called for Sir Desmond to issue a full retraction and apologise for ‘unacceptable’ comments. The deputy Labour leader said endorsing conspiracy theories and questioning the official figures was deeply dangerous, as there is absolutely no evidence.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 28 January 2021 20:50

May electioneering ‘fake news’

Conservative London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey used City Hall branded paper to warn Londoners of an alleged 21.2% council tax increase. The leaflet, with a Tory Party logo, invited readers to sign a petition against council tax rises. He was reported to the Crown Prosecution Service for fraudulent leaflets, and London’s Labour deputy leader called for the Tories to apologise. She said Mr Bailey seemed ‘determined to insult voters' intelligence by bringing discredited Donald Trump-style fake news to London. He has consistently misled over finances, the congestion charge, and council tax, and his latest leaflets are literally a work of fiction. Fake news, fake polls and fake leaflets will reflect badly on him and the Conservative Party and erode trust in politics.’ The Liberal Democrat candidate posted a picture of the leaflet on social media, labelling it a ‘cheap trick’.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 14 January 2021 21:07

Fake news

Fraudsters are sending out fake texts offering a Covid vaccine, trying to steal personal and financial information. Other scams include selling fake Covid cures and non-existent or low- quality PPE, as well as posing online as official sources to steal personal and banking details from victims. One scam message reading 'We have identified that you are eligible for your vaccine' prompts people to click on a link to 'apply’ for it. Pray for more police warnings about providing financial details to strangers. Criminals preying on people's fears over the pandemic are stealing millions of pounds, according to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. There have been fraud attempts posted on local Facebook pages and an ‘extremely convincing’ fake NHS website. Action Fraud warns people to never give out personal details to organisations or people before verifying their credentials first, even if the message appears to be genuine. See

Published in British Isles
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