How fake news of a coup in China spread

Originally published at: How fake news of a coup in China spread | Boing Boing



Perhaps I’m being a little overly suspicious here, but this sounds like the sort of rumor that you start, then take careful notes about who reacts and how?


The part which had me almost suckered (probably not that hard a target to hit) was all the “Look! All the air-flights over China have been halted!” complete with flight data maps showing nearly zero flights. Then Newsweek (Newsweek i tells ya!) started to back up all this. …really got to wonder if this was an orchestrated hoax [squinty-eye emoji]


even if not started that way, notes were taken.

if it weren’t for the fact chinese authorities also have the data - i’d wonder if this analysis should have been anonymized. ( oh, okay. fine. i still wonder that. why do work for an oppressive government? and for free? )


I saw it trending on Twitter last night (although apparently the rumors got started on the 21st), did a search and multiple Indian newspapers were claiming it was true. Of course, not knowing anything about journalism standards in India, nor which newspapers are the equivalent of Weekly World News or Fox, I figured I’d wait and see what familiar news outlets were saying today… which was nothing. Which told me what I needed to know even before I saw the debunkings of the supposed flight data.

I saw some Newsweek reporting last night, but it’s pretty much, “Well there are these rumors, but are they true? [mumbles] I dunno. [/shrug]” Not inspiring a lot of confidence in their reporting, I must say… I’m seeing people arguing today that it’s totally true, look at the flight data! - but I can’t tell where they’re getting it, because apparently it’s just not accurate. Pretty weird. Seems like this whole thing might actually have gotten started when someone saw a bunch of inaccurate data on air and rail travel in China, leapt to wild conclusions and it snowballed.


And the lowest quality: gossip.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Newsweek ceased to exist in its original form long ago and is now just a shell of a website owned by some rightwinger.


Getting it completely wrong is roughly the quality of reporting I’ve come to expect from the revived Newsweek.


I thought I had heard something to that effect, but then read something that actually involved some journalism from Newsweek that made me question that memory - but it may have been a archived article…

Although in this case they didn’t so much get it wrong as completely avoid doing any journalism - “reporting” that there were these rumors, then throwing their hands up at the possibility of debunking or verifying them until a “reputable source” actually did the work of investigating. It’s an interesting camouflage for going from a news outlet to… whatever they are - keep repeating what others are saying without any attempt at real reportage. Due to the destruction of American journalism, plenty of ostensibly real news outlets have a lot of filler content that’s the same these days.


OK, so LoliWifeGroomer got it wrong in this instance, but everyone makes mistakes now and then. I say we shouldn’t rush to dismiss an obviously-reputable source based on one bad call. Let’s watch and see what they come up with in future.


I remember reading somewhere that if a coup were to happen, they would wait until Xi is out of the country. The article also said that this is why Xi rarely travels abroad.

Francisco Franco is still dead…

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A lot of coups have taken place while the Maximum Leader was abroad (often for medical treatment). If you can cut them off from their power base – and stop them getting back into the country – it’s that much harder for them to rally their supporters.

There’ve been cases of coup plotters closing airports or even blocking runways with tanks to stop ousted leaders from returning.

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The CIA’s podcast is really shaping up then.

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