Anti-Corbyn fake news has just hit a new low. And it’s likely to get far worse.

Jeremy Corbyn
Tom Coburg

Fake news and smears aimed at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are nothing new. However, it’s not just the usual tabloids that are guilty of this, newer technologies are playing their part.

These attacks are not only malicious but, more seriously, have the potential to encourage harm of any magnitude.

Fake ‘tweet’

On 29 November, a horrific knife attack took place on London Bridge. That saw two innocent people killed, three injured and a third, the suspect and who was previously jailed for terrorist offence, shot dead by the police.

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Not long after, Corbyn tweeted this:

This was followed by:

However, this ‘tweet’ was also published via WhatsApp:

Except it’s a fake. And it’s not even a real tweet.

Although it seems some were fooled by it:

Clues

The Corbyn’s actual Twitter timeline included no such tweet. Furthermore, the image displayed Arial regular font, which is not used by Twitter. And Corbyn never tweets from an Android.

But a certain amount of damage was already done:

Meanwhile, one Twitter user demonstrated how easy it can be to create a fake ‘tweet’:

The context

One Twitter commentator responded by referring to fake activities by the Conservatives. Indeed, only recently, the party published a fake Labour website and re-branded its Tory Twitter account to masquerade as a ‘fact checker’:

Wider context

Smear attacks and attempts to undermine Corbyn have been relentless.

For example, in 2015, a British Army general claimed that Corbyn would face a mutiny should he attempt to end the Trident nuclear weapons system or withdraw the UK from NATO. A similar claim and threat were recycled in 2018. And In February of that year, the right-wing tabloids even claimed Corbyn was a Czech spy, although the allegations were easily shown to be groundless.

More recently, a former MI6 chief claimed Corbyn was a danger to national security.

BBC at fault

Misrepresentations can also be subtle. For example, in 2015, in the wake of terror attacks in Paris, BBC reporter Laura Kuenssberg asked Corbyn:

If you were prime minister, would you be happy to order people – police or military – to shoot to kill on Britain’s streets?

Corbyn replied:

I am not happy with a shoot to kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counter-productive.

But when the interview was aired, Kuenssberg changed the emphasis of the question to:

if he [Corbyn] were the resident here at Number 10 whether or not he would be happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris-style attack

The BBC Trust found that the:

breach of due accuracy on such a highly contentious political issue meant that the output had not achieved due impartiality.

This was also covered by The Canary. The Keunssberg report, however, is still available on the BBC website and apparently trending:

Technology at play

In recent years it’s been getting more and more difficult to distinguish real news from fake news and outright smears. This is especially so, given the use of digital technologies to assist in the fraud.

In this particular instance fake news hit a new low, exploiting a terror attack to simply score a political point.

Sadly, we should expect that this kind of fake news is likely to remain a feature of our everyday life.

Featured image via screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. The London Bridge tragedy, of course, raises serious questions about the monitoring of felons, not least where ‘reforming terrorists’ wear electronic tags as Mr Usman Khan the murderer was reported so profiled was allowed on parole and out in public before he launched into his murderous outrage. And, this occurring right in the middle of our UK ‘Brexit general election’ has supplied opportunity for ‘national security’ being used politically against potential leader Jeremy Corbyn by his detractors and revilers with a well-prated mantra screeching that ‘Jeremy Corbyn would be a security risk to the UK if he was to become the next UK leader’. Personages such as the former MI6 chief David Dearlove – what a name to conjure with for a secret service? – has lambasted Mr Corbyn. Exceptionally Mr Corbyn of all the potential UK general election leaders, in the wake of Jack’s murder, sees Mr Jeremy Corbyn standing closest to brave victim Jack Merritt and his family with his calm, reflective view about the rights of criminals. This is so poignantly attested with Jack’s father saying “Jack…would not wish his death to be used as a pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily…”

    2. Regardless of whether this serious mischief was at behest of Conservative party apparatus, the government supported ‘Integrity Initiative’, or some fanatic in a bedsit, it serves the perpetrator ill.

      Technological Internet wizardry is not required for promulgating lies that survive long enough to have lasting impact on some of the electorate. The weapon is easily turned against the Conservatives by disgruntled Labour supporters and by independent mavericks. However, under Mr Corbyn I am certain that the method could never gain official sanction (of the ‘Blair’ I would not be so sanguine).

      The Conservatives have far more to lose from this tactic than Labour. Try as they might there was no dirt to discover attached to Mr Corbyn. They have resorted to their specious, and hypocritical, ‘antisemitism’ campaign which has worn so thin that even the sleepiest of the electorate will notice.

      Johnson is in a weak position. His numerous character flaws leading to mendacity, general lack of probity, and tomcat behaviour, are well documented. They make good starting point for confabulating deeper turpitude. These could easily be made consonant with what is already known about Johnson and thus be very convincing. Similar observations apply to Johnson’s key henchmen.

      It’s a case of those who live by the sword …

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