Medium’s tech and science publication, OneZero, recently interviewed Kate Starbird, a principal investigator at the Center for an Informed Public, as part of an examination of breaking news Twitter accounts and a recent situation that “simultaneously illustrates two disparate tactics that help spread misinformation online: clever imposter accounts and news aggregators that cut corners.”
During the protests in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd, the @Breaking9ll Twitter account, which looks similar to the popular @Breaking911 news account, shared a photo of a McDonalds restaurant on fire. But the photo of the burning McDonalds wasn’t from Minneapolis. It was made to look like it was tied to the protests.
According to OneZero: “Breaking911 doesn’t often share blatantly fake news like its fake clones, but the account consistently posts misleading information, removing context and sourcing from its tweets or adding its own descriptions without attribution.”
Furthermore, as Peter Slattery wrote for OneZero, Starbird said that “Breaking911 shared three of the six false rumors that a team of academics, including herself, focused on in a 2014 paper about the spread of misinformation after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing for a gathering of information studies researchers called iConference, including ‘one that was clearly a hoax and could’ve been refuted with a simple Google search.’ ”