Disinformation boom hits the Internet 
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 Disinformation boom hits the Internet

Internet Became Misinformation Superhighway In A Matter Of Days

It's human nature to want to believe that what we see on the printed page actually represents reality. We've tended to accept the proposition that what we read in reputable newspapers or hear from the mass media wouldn't be printed or broadcast unless there were at least some truth in what was being disseminated.

But it wasn't until FakedNews.com appeared on the Internet this November that such a flow of misinformation and hoaxes hit the Internet. FakedNews.com suggests to write a news story about your friend, relative etc. and make it appear as if the story were published on some of the most trustworthy news websites - CNN, The Washington Post, etc.

The URLs of the articles don't differ from CNN's or that of other news websites. Add to this the media's natural pattern with working interface - and the article looks perfectly inside the website.

The aim of the project's creators was to provide people with "high-tech recreation services", and they really did it - on the first day over 10,000 visitors visited the website, and the number doubles every day (each visitor makes two news stories on average and sends them to the so-called victims - characters of the stories - then after the victims find out that the news is a joke, they come to the website and in their turn make two news stories each).

However, some of Internet surfers used FakedNews in order to spread rumors about pop-stars and to seed panic notifying public about some dangerous computer viruses. Artem Orel, one of the creators of FakedNews, comments on the fact: "We expected that some people could abuse our service, but we did everything to prevent it. After reading the news, when you close the window, a fast-loading pop-up appears to tell you that the news is faked!"

BBC already reacted to the FakedNews boom: "BBC does not mind FakedNews when used for recreational purposes, but we do not want to spread some rumors using our name and therefore violating the reputation. If such cases are detected, we'll ask FakedNews to remove our interface from their website."

Though it's unknown how much of the public understands that the news about Bush's anhtrax and Aguillera's death are fake, these news stories drew attention of 30,000 visitors within first hours after being posted on FakedNews and spread all over the Internet. However, upon the discovery of these two and many other tricky articles, FakedNews administration decided to protect itself against scandals and deleted them from the website. "When you generate a news story, you are to sign the agreement that you will not use the service in order to bring harm to anybody," said Dmitry Ambartsoumian, FakedNews producer. "Yes, we are for free speech, but we stand for free speech with responsibility. Overall, the agreement says that we preserve the right to delete any news story, and we sometimes have to do it for Internet's information safety."

Wed, 21 Apr 2004 23:57:03 GMT  
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