In the words of Mark Twain, “everybody talks about fake news but nobody does anything about it.” Such it is with Twitter “citizen journalists” like Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor, who claim to be uncovering unreported political conspiracies but are more than likely just spreading falsehoods. Which is why, as I’ve argued before, Twitter users like Mensch, who have a track record of disseminating lies, should not be given official verification checkmarks.
Last night the Guardian came out with a piece detailing one of Mensch and Taylor’s more explosive “scoops,” and how it came from a fake source intending to mislead them. It’s a bit of a winding tale, so bear with me.
A hoaxer–who spoke with the Guardian–originally emailed Taylor saying she had information that President Trump’s defunct model agency was under investigation for potential sex trafficking. Taylor did not attempt to vet the source and instead prodded her for more juicy gossip. Then he tweeted that he received information about an investigation into the agency. Mensch then retweeted the allegation on her own feed and added that what she learned from her own sources was even worse.
The initial inkling of this outrageous story, mind you, came from one hoax of a source, who was intentionally trying to feed them the misinformation “out of frustration over the ‘dissemination of fake news.'” Taylor has since apologized for not vetting the source; Mensch has dug in her heels, saying she received the information a different source, which is funny because that would mean the exact allegation–which was made up out of thin air by an intentional hoaxer–is also being spread by someone else.
Indeed it’s a gnarly web of allegations and outright falsehoods. And, again, it’s another reason why, as I wrote last month, people like Louise Mensch should not have a Twitter checkmark, which grants users validity and adds weight to what they tweet. This is exactly how fake news starts.