Tap anywhere to start

The rise of liberal fake news

So often seen as the preserve of angry US presidents, conspiracy theorists and the anti-vaxxing, climate-crisis-denying hard Right, the semi-truths of fake news are now being deployed by the liberal Left, too. Katy Balls investigates

Illustrations by Michelle Thompson

It was a government advert so crass it sent shockwaves across social media. A young ballerina is pictured fastening her pointe shoes alongside an ominous caption: ‘Fatima’s next job could be in cyber — she just doesn’t know it yet.’ Shared online just days after the chancellor had come under fire for comments he had made about retraining parts of the workforce facing redundancy as a result of the coronavirus, Fatima the Ballerina became the poster child for government insensitivity.

The message was read as a sign of Tory callousness, asking creatives to give up on their lifelong ambitions because the Treasury wouldn’t bail them out. Liberals on social media were quick to go on the attack insisting that Fatima should be ‘financially supported during Covid-19’, while the singer KT Tunstall suggested the Government could be ‘barred from enjoying any arts for the rest of time’. The photographer behind the picture said she was ‘devastated’ by its use.

Only it wasn’t all that it was made out to be. Rather than part of a government push for retraining in the wake of the pandemic, the advert was part of a 2019 campaign for cyber recruitment that existed long before the pandemic hit. Even when users pointed this out online, the news failed to travel as fast as the initial outrage. For many the details were irrelevant, as the wider point — of a government that cared for money not the arts — in their minds held true.

"while the Right has a reputation for fighting dirty, the Left has sometimes been seen to be above this"

READ THE FULL ARTICLE
READ THE FULL ARTICLE

"incredibly long stat-based attack documents are really ineffective"

READ THE FULL ARTICLE
READ THE FULL ARTICLE

"There is always that interrogation and that feeling of is this really real, and it’s Particularly accentuated if it’s seen on social mediA"

READ THE FULL ARTICLE
READ THE FULL ARTICLE

"the challenge for the left is walking the tightrope of getting people’s attention while keeping their integrity intact"

READ THE FULL ARTICLE
READ THE FULL ARTICLE