IRONY: BuzzFeed Used By Russian Network To Spread Fake News

Written by K. Walker on December 18, 2019

How unfortunate for the same “media” organization that published the Steele Dossier as legitimate.

It was BuzzFeed News that first reported the salacious “pee-tape” dossier that may have actually been Russian propaganda. 

It should be noted that BuzzFeed’s Community site is separate from BuzzFeed News. The Community site has a disclaimer at the top of the articles posted that reads, “This post has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed’s editorial staff.” The Community site is best known for the widely shared quizzes and listicles.

A BBC investigation has revealed that a network of Russian social media accounts was responsible for leaking US-UK trade documents and spreading fake news online using BuzzFeed’s Community site, Reddit, Medium, Quora, and other open-access websites.

The “fake news” was noted by the UK’s Labour Party during the recent general election campaign which prompted Reddit to remove the posts.

Less than a week before the vote, Reddit announced that the accounts and the leak – which was highlighted during the campaign by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn – were linked to Russia.

Reddit did not give details of the evidence, nor did it definitively state that the Russian government directed or sponsored the network, which was first uncovered earlier in the year by researchers at Oxford and Cardiff universities, the Atlantic Council think tank and social media analysis firm Graphika.

In a post, Reddit said a group of 61 suspect accounts “provides us with important attribution for the recent posting of the leaked UK documents, as well as insights into how adversaries are adapting their tactics”.

Graphika reports that it had identified 44 “false or highly partisan” stories published by the Russian network between October 2016 and October 2019.

On December 6, Reddit published a full list of the accounts that were suspected to be part of a coordinated Russian interference effort.

BBC Trending examined those accounts and the material they posted in detail, tracing them to other accounts and posts on BuzzFeed, blogging site Medium, question-and-answer site Quora and a host of lesser-known blogs and sites.

In some cases, posts by the suspended accounts on Reddit were copied, word for word and almost simultaneously, on other sites. In other cases, unique user names or email addresses were the same.

One example that the BBC article cited as part of the disinformation campaign is an “exclusive” interview with a member of Britain’s secret service, MI6. In the interview posted by an account with the username “OliverrStonne,” the agent identified as “Richard Jones” claims that MI6 secretly worked to prevent the election of Donald Trump on the orders of former Prime Minister David Cameron and Hillary Clinton. As ridiculous as the article was — an MI6 agent would hardly break such a huge story in an interview with an anonymous, unpaid writer — it was accessed just a few hundred times, it was cited in other articles and was the source of other conspiracy theories.

BuzzFeed News was one of the main outlets which brought attention to the issue of online disinformation or “fake news” – made-up stories going viral on social media – during the 2016 US election.

During the 2016 US election, BuzzFeed reporters uncovered a huge network based in Macedonia pumping out fictitious stories to try to capitalise on interest in the election campaign.

The stories were used to boost traffic to dodgy news sites and, in turn, generate money from online advertising.

Source: BBC Trending

It’s ironic that BuzzFeed News is cited as one of the main outlets for bringing the attention to “fake news” when they were the ones that first peddled the salacious Steele Dossier which the Inspector General has said that was the basis for the FISA warrant on Carter Page. 

Sure, it’s a great thing to highlight the “fake news” spread by Macedonian websites trying to cash in on partisanship, but it’s also a distinct lack of self-awareness that BuzzFeed News doesn’t acknowledge its own partisan biases and its willingness to spread “fake news” if it helps their side.

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ClashDaily's Associate Editor since August 2016. Self-described political junkie, anti-Third Wave Feminist, and a nightmare to the 'intersectional' crowd. Mrs. Walker has taken a stand against 'white privilege' education in public schools. She's also an amateur Playwright, former Drama teacher, and staunch defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her humble musings on Twitter: @TheMrsKnowItAll