Russia, a nation who has been accused of spreading fake news through its state-run news organizations, is now launching a service purportedly to debunk it.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday began publishing to its website what it called “examples of publications, retranslating fake information about Russia.”
As might be expected, the effort is not exactly the robust fact-checking publications to which Americans have become accustomed. In fact, it does not provide any basis for claiming that a given story or entry is ‘fake.’ Instead, the entry shows a picture of the subject article with a red stamp which reads “FAKE” above the single a single line of text: “This article puts forward information that does not correspond to reality.” There is no further explanation provided.
Thus far, the website has labeled — meaning stamped — five stories as fake, including reports that were published by NBC News, The New York Times and Bloomberg News. Topics include Russia’s alleged deployment of a cruise missile in violation of a treaty; Russia’s attempt to hack France’s presidential front-runner; a plot to assassinate Montenegro’s prime minister; Russia considering handing over Edward Snowden, the famous — or infamous depending on one’s point of view — NSA leaker; and the death of five diplomats under suspicious circumstances in three months.
Russia’s state-run news services have, for years, been accused of spreading false or misleading information, acting outlets for government propaganda. For example, the government-funded news network RT was singled out by the U.S. Intelligence Community in its report detailing Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential elections last year. U.S. officials concluded that Russia worked to tilt the scales toward Donald Trump and that RT actively spread news to support Russian propagandist goals.
The U.S. Intelligence Community also concluded that Kremlin was responsible for hacking into Democratic Party organizations in order to support Trump.
The new government effort certainly seems like a similar endeavor, this time attempting to spread fake news by claiming to debunk it.