See 20 years of FAKE NEWS about EU by UK press. Vote for your ‘favourite’ here:

05TuesdayDec 2017

Posted by Tom Pride in vindictiveness

Forget about Russian meddling or US companies pushing fake and ‘dark’ news on the internet to influence the Brexit vote.

Fake news to influence the UK public to vote for Brexit has mostly come from our very own so-called professional journalists right here in the UK.

Here’s a list of fake news by the UK press over the last 20 years. Every single story here has been debunked as fake news.

It’s hard to pick just one but my personal favourites are Euronotes cause impotence‘ by the Daily Mail and ‘EU puts speed limit on children’s roundabouts‘ from the always entertaining Daily Express.

Read through the list and vote for your own ‘favourite’ in the comments section below – the most popular will win a ‘prize’for ‘Most Ridiculous EU Fake News’.

Enjoy (or maybe despair):

EC regulations to ban playgrounds – Daily Express

Rolling acres outlawed by Brussels – The Telegraph

EU to scrap British exams – Sunday Express

Obscure EU law halting the sale of English oak seeds – Mail on Sunday

EU may try to ban sweet and toy ads – The Times

EU to tell British farmers what they can grow – Daily Mail

EU ‘Bans Boozing’ – Daily Star

Light ale to be forced to change its name by Eurocrats – Daily Mail

EU fanatics to be forced to sing dire anthem about EU ‘Motherland’ – The Sun

British apple trees facing chop by EU – The Times

EC plan to ban noisy toys – Sunday People

EU to ban bagpipes and trapeze artists – The Sun

Children to be banned from blowing up balloons, under EU safety rules – Daily Telegraph

Straight cucumbers – The Sun

Curved bananas banned by Brussels bureaucrats – The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express

Brussels bans barmaids from showing cleavage – The Sun, Daily Telegraph

Rumpole’s wig to scrapped by EU – Mail on Sunday

Church bells silenced by fear of EU law – Daily Telegraph

Motorists to be charged to drive in city centres under EU plans – Daily Telegraph

EU to stop binge drinking by slapping extra tax on our booze – The Sun

Brandy butter to be renamed ‘brandy spreadable fat’ – The European

British loaf of bread under threat from EU – Daily Mail

Truckers face EU ban on fry-ups – The Sun

EU to ban Union Flag from British meat packs – Daily Express

EU seeks to outlaw 60 dog breeds – Europa News Agency

Double-decker buses to be banned – Daily Telegraph

EU bans eating competition cakes – Timesonline

Now EU officials want control of your CANDLES – Daily Express

21-gun salutes are just too loud, Brussels tells the Royal Artillery – Mail on Sunday

Brussels threatens charity shops and car boot sales – Daily Mail

Plot to axe British number plates for standardised EU design – Daily Express

Women to be asked intimate details about sex lives in planned EU census – Daily Express

British cheese faces extinction under EU rules – PA News

EU meddlers ban kids on milk rounds – The Sun, The Telegraph

British chocolate to be renamed ‘vegelate’ under EU rules – Daily Mail

EU to ban church bells – Daily Telegraph

British film producers warn of new EU threat to industry – The Independent

Kilts to be branded womenswear by EU – Daily Record

EU to ban double decker buses – Daily Mail

Cod to be renamed ‘Gadus’ thanks to EU – Daily Mail

Brussels to restrict drinking habits of Britain’s coffee lovers – Daily Express

EU responsible for your hay fever – Daily Mail, The Times

Condom dimensions to be harmonised – Independent on Sunday

EU wants to BAN your photos of the London Eye – Daily Express

Corgis to be banned by EU – Daily Mail

EU forcing cows to wear nappies – Daily Mail

Eurocrats to ban crayons and colouring pencils – The Sun

Smoky bacon crisps face EU ban – Sunday Times


EU outlaws teeth whitening products – Daily Mail


Domain names – ‘.uk’ to be replaced by ‘.eu’ – Daily Mail

Brussels to ban HGV drivers from wearing glasses – The Times

New eggs cannot be called eggs – Daily Mail

EU to ban selling eggs by the dozen – Daily Mail

UK to be forced to adopt continental two pin plug – Daily Star, Daily Mail

EU targets traditional Sunday roast – Sun on Sunday

English Channel to be re-named ‘Anglo-French Pond’ – Daily Mail

Brussels to force EU flag on England shirts – Daily Mail

EU orders farmers to give toys to pigs – The Times

Firemen’s poles outlawed by EU – Daily Mail

Euro ban on food waste means swans cannot be fed – The Observer

Noise regulations to force football goers to wear earplugs – The Sun

Traditional Irish funeral under threat from EU – Daily Telegraph, The Times

EU to ban high-heel shoes for hairdressers – Daily Express

Commission to force fishermen to wear hairnets – Daily Telegraph

Brussels to ban herbal cures – Daily Express

Bureaucrats declare Britain is “not an island”– the Guardian

EU bid to ban life sentences for murderers – Daily Express

New EU map makes Kent part of France – Sunday Telegraph

EU tells Welsh how to grow their leeks – The Times

EU to ban lollipop ladies’ sticks – News of the World

EU plot to rename Trafalgar Square & Waterloo station – Daily Express

UK milk ‘pinta’ threatened by Brussels – The Sun

EU bans ‘mince’ pies – Daily Mail

Eurocrats say Santa must be a woman – The Sun

Now EU crackpots demand gypsy MPs – Daily Express

Brussels to outlaw mushy peas – The Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Times

Brussels says shellfish must be given rest breaks on journeys – The Times

Pets must be pressure cooked after death – Sunday Telegraph

EU puts speed limit on children’s roundabouts – Daily Express

2-for-1 bargains to be scrapped by EU – Daily Mirror

EU madness: chat up bar girl and pub will be fined – Daily Star

Queen to be forced to get her own tea by EU – The Sun

EU tells women to hand in worn-out sex toys – The Sun

British rhubarb to be straight – The Sun

EU to ban rocking horses – The Sun

Scotch whisky rebranded a dangerous chemical by EU – Daily Telegraph

Brussels ban on pints of shandy – The Times

“High up” signs to be put on mountains – BBC

Euronotes cause impotence – Daily Mail

EU to ban under 16-year-olds from using Facebook – Daily Mail

Strawberries must be oval – The Sun

EU orders swings to be pulled down – Daily Express

Tea bags banned from being recycled – BBC

British lav to be replaced with Euro-loo – The Sun

Unwanted Valentine’s cards to be defined as sexual harrasment – Daily Telegraph

Bosses to be told what colour carpets to buy by EU – Daily Star

EU says British yoghurt to be renamed ‘Fermented Milk Pudding’ – Sunday Mirror

EU to ban zipper trousers – The Sun

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Fake News Awards 2016: The mainstream media sweep the board at the inaugural Fake News Awards [Satire]

"Immediately before we even appointed anyone to do social media they had tens of thousands of people sharing bullshit from The Canary or some other half-true source…” - An unnamed Owen Smith supporter on Jeremy Corbyn’s second leadership election victory.

It’s been a fascinating year for both the alternative and mainstream media, and not without its controversies. Most recently the latest furore has been over the issue of ‘fake news’ – an issue the mainstream are happy to report with absolutely no hint of irony.
Senior Labour Party figure Tom Watson has picked up the ball and run with it, announcing an inquiry into what he considers fake news, led by his colleague Michael Dugher. The fact that Dugher has written against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for both the Daily Mail and The Sun says all you need to know regarding their stance on the matter.
So, with this in mind, here are the winners of the inaugural Fake News Awards for outstanding contributions to manipulating media coverage and, on occasion, completely fabricating it as well.
Step forward The Sun and The Daily Mail: both of whom published as fact (then swiftly retracted) stories accusing Jeremy Corbyn of dancing his way to The Cenotaph using fairly-obviously doctored photos. Doctored photos supplied by one Steve Back AKA @PoliticalPics. It was The Mirror that outed this obvious fakery (which both the Mail and Sun promptly deleted).

*Cue drum roll and a brief burst of classical music* 

Mr. Back, The Sun and The Daily Mail, it is my honour to present you all with our very first Phoney Award. Long may it haunt your ‘interesting’ attitude to little things like fact-checking, accuracy, honesty and journalistic integrity.  

Next up we have both Tom Watson and the head of Watson’s proposed inquiry into ‘fake news.’ Yes, Michael Dugher, MP who has written for the Sun and the Mail and seems to have an axe to grind over the democratic election and continued survival of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. He, as head of this inquiry, would be expected to be fair and impartial. It’s fair to say that his own media employment history, his avowed loathing for supposed ‘fake news’ sites like The Canary and Evolve Politics, as well as his vehement anti-Corbynism, invite a certain scepticism. 

Time for another drum roll and short snatch of classical music.  

Mr. Watson, Mr. Dugher, you too are recipients of a ‘Phoney Award’ for your attacks on both your democratically-elected leader and especially for portraying yourselves as non-partisan while wanting to curb independent media for being, in your opinions, partisan. Your nominations are (as a great and, appropriately, entirely fictional character) once said,  

‘Elementary, my dear Watson…’ 

In the broadcasting category, it’s an honour to present a Phoney Award to the avowedly-impartial British Broadcasting Corporation. Yes, that BBC, the BBC with the charter specifically devoting itself to objective, impartial coverage of all issues.  The BBC that issued a very quiet admission that it had portrayed activists opposed to intervention in Syria as violent thugs. An admission it buried as far from public view as possible. 

Speaking of the lovely Auntie Beeb, it wouldn’t be right to ignore the contribution of senior Beeb political journalist Laura Kuenssberg. After all, she was recently crowned ‘Journalist of the Year at the Press Gazette British Journalism Awards. That would be the same Laura Kuenssberg accused of clear anti-Corbyn bias, of not just reporting, but actually helping orchestrate the resignation of MP Steven Doughty with the intention of damaging Corbyn. The same Laura Kuenssberg under fire for endlessly using Twitter to spend more time attacking Corbyn than for a great deal else. 

Ms Kuenssberg, BBC journalist, impartial media source and Journalist of the Year, here’s another trophy for your collection.  

Of course, another way to manipulate media coverage is to ‘spike’ a story, to ensure it doesn’t reach the media in the first place. For that award, step forward Iain Duncan Smith (on whose watch this occurred) and the Department for Work and Pensions for their sterling contribution to ensuring that bad news ends up as no news by spiking as many stories as possible. Somehow for a department whose media people are devoted to hyping up successes and trying (ineptly) to conceal failures, it’s doubtful that they’ll want to acknowledge their victory here. Another one to be spiked..? 

It wouldn’t be inclusive to ignore contributions from outside the UK. Foreign politicians and the mainstream press are every bit as unhappy about fake news outlets, after all. With that in mind, it’s a true privilege to present the inaugural international award to, no less, the Washington Post for starting the fake news ball rolling in the first place.  

Finally, a special mention should go to recent contenders Slate. The people at Slate are concerned about fake news. So concerned, in fact, that they’re touting the introduction of their new ‘debunking tool,’ a Google Chrome extension that they say will automatically flag up fake news, disrupt its viral spread and point readers to what it calls ‘A reputable source that debunks the story in question.’ Quite who defines what is and isn’t ‘reputable’ isn’t made clear. Nor is it made clear what the bosses at Slate would do if they themselves published something later exposed as fake news. The non-mainstream media will probably, sooner or later, be inclined to ask. [This article has been updated to include the fact that The Mirror debunked The Sun’s Jeremy Corbyn jig story before The Canary.]

Labour’s anti-Corbyn faction are directly targeting The Canary for censorship in the war on ‘fake news’

Since the shock election of Donald Trump in the US, the mainstream media in both the States and the UK have been awash with reports about ‘fake news’ sites spreading misleading and entirely fictional news reports across social media.

Virtually all of the fake stories cited had a pro-Trump narrative, and were almost exclusively articles targeted at his supporters across the so-called alt-right (neo-Nazi) movement.

EvolvePolitics even debunked one such story that falsely (and hilariously) claimed that former Labour leader Ed Miliband was a ‘hitman and fixer’ for Hillary Clinton. To a British audience, this story was quite clearly untrue – but the piece went viral amongst Trump supporters in the US.

Up until now, the focus of the ‘fake news’ hysteria throughout the mainstream media has been squarely focused upon the emerging alt-right (neo-Nazi) movement in America. 

The owner and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has also come under increasing pressure from the Establishment media to clamp down on the apparent scourge of ‘fake news’, with the BBC, amongst others, implying that such articles may have swung the US election in favour of Trump.
But now, back in the UK, MPs of the Labour Party are reported to have directly identified their first target in their own crusade against ‘fake news’.


Let's end the stigma around miscarriage.

You would have thought Labour’s primary target would be an outlet hostile to the Party such as The S*n, who recently faked an entire news report claiming Jeremy Corbyn had danced his way to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day.

But according to BuzzFeed, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has drafted in staunch anti-Corbyn MP Michael Dugher to work on an inquiry into ‘fake news’ across social media, and unsurprisingly, their first target is reported to be the biggest and fastest growing independent pro-Corbyn media outlet, The Canary.

Speaking as an unnamed source, a Labour insider working on the inquiry into ‘fake news’ reportedly told BuzzFeed:

It’s not about online and offline news, it’s about people who are actual journalists and people who are just making shit up

The BuzzFeed report goes on to state that several Labour sources within the inquiry highlighted The Canary’s influence across social media.

The Labour source ‘insisted’ that the move to target a pro-Corbyn site rather than an openly hostile and regular purveyor of fake anti-Corbyn news, such as The S*n, was ‘not an opportunistic intervention’.

Via Screengrab/BuzzFeed

Tom Watson was also quoted in the piece, saying:

I’ve never been afraid to take on the mainstream media when it abuses its power or acts illegally or unethically – by hacking phones, bribing public officials, or going through people’s bins. And complaints about the ‘biased MSM’ are sometimes justified. But the solution does not lie in the creation of a form of pseudo-journalism that is even more biased, less rigorous, and often based on downright lies

Despite the unnamed Labour source’s claims that this is not an ‘opportunistic’ decision, it’s clear that the current hysteria over ‘fake news’ has being commandeered by openly hostile anti-progressive MPs to try and silence alternative media outlets who are supportive of truly progressive, anti-Establishment politicians like Jeremy Corbyn.

In the coming weeks and months, alternative media outlets such as ourselves and The Canary will come under a sustained attack by those in the Establishment who wish to silence us and our truly progressive, anti-Establishment stance.
You’ve already seen how the Establishment treats whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange – ordinary people who publish indisputable and damaging truths about the Establishment and their corruption on a regular basis.

Now the Establishment is coming for independent alternative media. Why? Because we’re incorruptible, and we won’t sing from the same hymn-sheet as the corporate media. And most of all – because we’re not going to let politicians get away with their utter horseshit any longer.
It’s little wonder there’s now a huge demand for alternative media given that the mainstream regularly fail to hold the establishment to account. And, ironically, in a capitalist society, if an industry is not doing its job properly, other companies will swoop in and replace them. The only reason sites like ours exist is because the mainstream media have failed to do their jobs properly.

The Establishment know their entire global system is on the precipice of change, and that the corrupt corporate greed that drives them could soon be a thing of the past. Now, more than ever, independent sites that regularly expose true injustice, inequality and corruption need the support of their readership.

We must ensure that the Establishment’s dreams of authoritarian Orwellian censorship are not allowed to happen.

If Jezza stays, May can win a snap election... if she has the bottle for it, writes MICHAEL DUGHER MP 


Gordon Brown's failure to call an early General Election back in 2007, when he was riding high after a buoyant start to his premiership, was arguably the biggest political blunder in living memory. The same dilemma faces new PM Theresa May.

With a Commons majority of just 12 MPs, May's brutal reshuffle – when she culled the ministerial allies of David Cameron and crushed the ambitions of other Tory 'modernisers' – has increased her fragility when it comes to potential backbench rebellions.

And despite her stealing Ed Miliband's talk of a Britain that doesn't just work for 'a privileged few', the reality is that she has assembled a Cabinet made up of Right-wing has-beens, anti-European headbangers and Norman Tebbit groupies.

Michael Dugher MP was Gordon Brown's chief political spokesman before 2010 but back in 2007, he was working at No 12 Downing Street in the Government Whips' Office

'So far, May says she has ruled out going to the polls before 2020. But I think she'll be persuaded to seize the chance sooner rather than later - maybe as early as October - if Jeremy Corbyn is still Labour leader'

However, as things stand, I'm convinced she won't make the same mistake as Brown.

So far, May says she has ruled out going to the polls before the 2020 date set under the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

But I think she'll be persuaded to seize the chance to go to the country sooner rather than later – maybe as early as October – if Jeremy Corbyn is still Labour leader after the September contest.

If that happens I fear we could see the Tories get a majority of a 100 seats. Indeed, Labour could be looking at decades in the political wilderness, which would be a disaster for Labour areas like mine in Barnsley.

I was Gordon Brown's chief political spokesman before 2010 but back in 2007, I was working at No 12 Downing Street in the Government Whips' Office.

I remember talking to my friend Tom Watson – now Labour's deputy leader – who was convinced there would be an early Election in 2007.

Brown asked the whips to ring round Labour MPs to get their thoughts. I recall one senior Labour MP being against an autumn Election on the dubious grounds that his large majority might be trimmed.

Brown was given conflicting advice from his inner circle in September 2007 and eventually ruled out a snap poll. Looking back, it was Brown's and Labour's best shot and we blew it.

Some people say May is too cautious to call an Election. It's true that she is in many ways a modern-day equivalent of Stanley Baldwin, the Tory leader in the inter-war years who, with his slogan 'safety first', was a hero of John Major's. In the turbulent 1920s, the mantra stood the Tory Party in good stead.

But the riskier move would be not to call an Election. Brexit means political and economic uncertainty.

And May, like Brown, would be permanently branded both an 'unelected' Prime Minister and a 'bottler'.

The clincher is that, as long as Corbyn remains Labour leader, May is like a gambler with a big pile of chips after a winning run at the casino table – and every instinct will be telling her to cash out while her luck is in.

One recent YouGov poll has support for Labour at just 29 per cent. At the same point in Ed Miliband's leadership, the same pollster had Labour riding high on 44 per cent.

An Ipsos MORI poll this week found just 23 per cent thought Corbyn had what it takes to be PM, compared to 55 per cent who were backing May.

Other polls have shown that large numbers of people who voted Labour at the 2015 General Election would now prefer May, and say they can't vote for a party led by Corbyn.

Of course, if Labour does make a change at the top and elect Owen Smith as our new leader, the party could unite. And that just might make Theresa May 'do a Gordon Brown' and put off an early Election.

Labour's fate is in our own hands.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Lav1965, Sunderland, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

Don't think that many people are big fans of the Torys or Labour anymore, but whether she would take the risk for an extra 16 months in power is debateable

Tim Stubbins, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

It's not for the extra time, it's the increased majority that she wants.

oldbean, bedfordshire, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

Labour has quickly become an irrelevant spent force,

RedMan67, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

There'll be no early GE. It will take place in 2020....and the Tories will win, hands down. Labour - whether under JC or Owen Smith will be wiped out ; Scotland - thanks to Blair 'n' Campbell's promise of a Scottish Parliament, which they thought would end Nationalism, but has had the totally opposite effect (snigger) - is gone for Labour.....Wales better, but still not as it used to be, and England has been Right of Centre for decades. Labour is a spent force....sorry to say, as I voted for them for 5 GEs....but no more - that's what happens if you put the EU before the British people !!

Total cynic ., Lincoln, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

WHO THE HELL IS JEZZA. use proper names. they do not need to call elections .

Brother Anthony, Reading UK, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

WE don't need an Election - we need her to get on with Brexit. If in 2 years time she's got us out with good Tade Deals then go to the Country. But not before.

Rt Hon Gentleman, Manchester, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

To the Honourable Gentleman for Barnsley; For all your provocative school playground-based posturing as to whether the PM "has the bottle" to call a general election, the fact is that the Conservative government have been duly elected by the British people and have another 4 years of office.............There are 'bigger fish to fry' right now other than expecting the people to engage in yet another trip to the polling booths in order merely to gain an increased majority....As you well know, this is a good game played slow......and talking of frying fish.....The Labour Party are doing a pretty good job of frying themselves right now........and so your wish may come to pass......but only when it suits and the time is right..........

john, richmond, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

There is no need for a snap election. Labour are finished whether he stays or go's.

KP, Guisborough, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

RESULTS are required, if there was a Snap General Election, then UKIP would Benefit. France and Hollande are causing Chaos and the UK IS Suffering. Brexit wasn't a Bargaining Position, IT meant ACTION, Invoke Article 50. IF there IS a Snap Election then VOTE UKIP.

Deliver Leave, Independent United Kingdom, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

The Labour Remainers and Blairites are desperate for something. Another referendum, general election, change of leader, appeals to judges etc etc. Had it all their own way for so long and now out of power and out of touch.

fredup, Brigadoon, United Kingdom, 1 year ago

The way things are going with all the backtracking over Brexit if she calls an election she will be held to account. UKIP will get a massive amount of votes. If she leaves it till later the proof will be there that she has betrayed the results of the referendum which will really upset people. Once more UKIP will benefit. Her best course is to get out of the EU immediately, rebuild our industrial infrastructure and become an economic power once again. After all we did pioneer industrialisation and we still have enough people with the skills who know more than sitting in a call centre annoying people all day long.

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oh, Jeremy Corbyn wasn't dancing a jig on his way to the Cenotaph

There were claims the Labour leader was "doing a little dance" on his way to the Remembrance Sunday service. Here's what he was really doing

What was he doing?

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of "dancing a jig" on his way to the Cenotaph this morning.

But the pictures don't tell the full story.

Two newspapers ran online stories accusing the Labour leader of "breaking into a dance" as he arrived behind Downing Street on his way to the Remembrance Day Service.

After the images were shared on social media, he was branded "a disgrace". One Twitter used asked: "Has no respect for anyone let alone those who gave up the lives so he could be who he is today."

But the full-frame photos reveal what Mr Corbyn was really doing.

The Labour leader chose to attend the service with a constituent, George Durack.

Jeremy Corbyn and George Durack (Image: Joanne Davidson/SilverHub)

With George in the frame, it's clear the pair are talking (Image: Joanne Davidson/SilverHub)

Mr Durack is a Word War II veteran, who served in the 7th Armoured Division, also known as the "Desert Rats", just as Caen was retaken.

Following the capture of Caen, his division took part in the invasion of France, Germany and Holland.

Mr Durack told the Mirror he was "walking along with Jeremy and he certainly didn't dance."

The full frame pictures tell a different story (Image: Joanne Davidson/SilverHub)

Mr Durack, 92, said he had known Jeremy Corbyn for 30 years and had recommended the Labour Leader became MP for Islington North.

He said: “I’ve seen a bit of action and that annoys me when somebody tries to make fun of something like this, I take it very seriously I lost good friends and good colleagues in the war and like me Jeremy Corbyn takes it very seriously.

“From what I can make of it they have taken some photographs of him walking along and you can make what you like of that. It’s absolute nonsense.

“I was with him all the time and I never saw nothing like that at all.

“If they try to blacken his name at least do it legitimately don’t make farce of something like that. I think it’s pretty awful and they should give him a break.

“I think it’s about time some of these newspapers gave him a break, he doesn’t deserve it and he certainly doesn’t deserve it when we’re talking about Remembrance Sunday and it’s terribly unfair.

 “I was with Jeremy when he lay the wreath and I was his companion at the Cenotaph so I know everything he’s done today because I was there.”

Mr Corbyn's team said the Labour leader had "gestured" towards the veteran while they carried on a conversation.

A spokesperson added: "The real disgrace is a photographer fabricating a story to sell his photos and airbrushing out George Durack on the one day set aside to remember the service and sacrifice of war veterans.

Mr Corbyn laid a wreath at the Cenotaph during the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

The card read: "In honour of those who must not have died in vain, we must bring about a peaceful world."

BBC quietly sneaks out correction admitting it blatantly lied in the run-up to war in Syria

Nine months after its successful Syria smear campaign, the BBC has been forced to come clean. A story about a peaceful protest outside an MP’s office had been bent into propaganda to promote a war. Now that we have the war the BBC can admit the truth. In a correction snuck onto their website they have admitted that the smear on anti-war activists as violent thugs was untrue.

As the vote on bombing Syria approached there was increasing scepticism about the bombing campaign. An initially supportive public were slowly remembering the lessons of Iraq and Libya and were feeling apprehensive about another sortie. They needed galvanising behind the war to protect MPs from reprisals at the ballot box. Something had to be done.

A peaceful protest outside Stella Creasy’s unoccupied Walthamstow office became a show of intimidation and violence outside her occupied home. Peaceful protestors became a “hard-left hate mob” and perhaps most bizarrely “vicars, imams and net trolls.” Famously violent people, vicars.

MPs were asked to denounce and criticise such behaviour. Tom Watson suggested that any Labour member on the demonstration would be expelled. Diane Abbott said that “protesting outside someone’s home is too far” and she’s right, but that never happened.

The story was a way for the BBC and the rest of the media to delegitimise the anti-war view by tying it inexorably to a group of thugs. Actually, not even a group of thugs but an image of a group of thugs. Regardless of the truth of the story you have Labour’s deputy leader suggesting that members be expelled without anyone knowing the truth.

Until this week, when the BBC quietly slipped out this snippet:


Let's end the stigma around miscarriage.

“Two listeners complained that the programme had inaccurately reported that a peaceful vigil in Walthamstow, in protest against the decision to bomb targets in Syria, had targeted the home of the local MP, Stella Creasy, and had been part of a pattern of intimidation towards Labour MPs who had supported the decision. The claim that the demonstration had targeted Ms Creasy’s home, and the implication that it was intimidatory in nature, originated from a single Facebook posting which later proved to be misleading (the demonstration’s destination was Ms Creasy’s constituency office, which was unoccupied at the time, not her home, and it was peaceful).”

This “correction” was not carried on any news bulletins nor was it widely publicised. Instead it was placed on the BBC’s website, in the feedback section. Buried amidst corrections of typos. It didn’t matter. The story was out there. The goal achieved. We had war.

The correction carries on in an increasingly jargon-focussed way, the essence of their excuse is that it was better to report a story that may not be true because it was topical. Plus, all the other papers were doing it!

The thing is, even Stella Creasy, to her eternal credit, was very clear that her home had not been targeted. “For avoidance of doubt, I have no reason to believe Tuesday’s protest in Walthamstow went past my house” read her Facebook post. “I have no reason to think those who took part on Tuesday were not peaceful in their conduct” she continued. This did not stop the mainstream media reporting it as fact.

It’s hard to know whether this sort of story originates in actual malice or simple incompetence. Given our collective lack of attention span it makes sense that news would become “print first, ask questions later.” Does that stop it being news though?

The BBC’s coverage of stories like this fall short of the first goal of news, to be informative, and that’s a problem. Our democracy is only as strong as the media that keeps it in check. With an increasingly servile BBC joining the print media lickspittles, it seems very difficult to know what to believe.

The wagons have been circled around the establishment and so anything about the outsiders must be believed. They must be violent and abusive, must be intimidating and aggressive. After all, things are okay, aren’t they?

BBC's Laura Kuenssberg named journalist of the year

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has been named journalist of the year at the Press Gazette's British Journalism Awards.

Kuenssberg became political editor last July and has been at the forefront of the corporation's Brexit coverage.

The judges said: "In a tumultuous year [Kuenssberg] rose to the challenge and made the story of Brexit her own."

The Guardian and BBC Panorama were named joint winners of investigation of the year for the Panama Papers scandal.

The Marie Colvin Award was given to Syrian citizen journalists reporting for the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently group.

Abdalaziz Alhamza, one of the site's founders, picked up the award, saying: "Our work shows that we can fight arms with words, and that ultimately is the only way to defeat them, and Isis knows it."

The judges said of their decision: "Given what those people have done and the price they have paid, it would be odd to put anyone ahead of them."

'Immense bravery'

Channel 4 journalist Waad Al-Kateab, currently trapped in Aleppo, Syria, won the foreign journalism prize, with judges praising her "sensitive, visceral reports" that showed "immense bravery".

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford told the audience the journalism industry faced "a constant fight for survival".

He said: "The work on display helps explain why what we do is important - and why it should be cherished and encouraged.

"This event aims to bang the drum for the best of what we do as the British industry, which holds everyone else to account."

British Journalism Awards: The winners

  • Local heroes award: Andy Richards, Birmingham Mail
  • Business, finance and economics journalism: Simon Goodley, The Guardian
  • Specialist journalism: Shaun Lintern, Health Service Journal
  • Politics journalism: Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Sports journalism: Matt Lawton, Daily Mail
  • Science and technology journalist: Billy Kenber, The Times
  • Campaign of the year: Martyn Halle, Sunday People
  • Popular journalism: Dan Jones, The Sun
  • Scoop of the year: Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Photojournalism: Philip Ide, Mail on Sunday
  • Digital Innovation:
  • Investigation of the year: The Guardian and BBC Panorama for The Panama Papers
  • New journalist of the year: Louise Callaghan, The Sunday Times
  • Foreign affairs journalism: Waad Al-Khatib, Channel 4 News
  • Journalist of the year: Laura Kuenssberg, BBC
  • The Marie Colvin Award: Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently

BBC’s Anti-Corbyn Bias ‘Extraordinary’, Says Ex-Trust Chairman

As an entity funded directly by British citizens, the BBC is mandated to be fair and impartial in its news and political coverage. However accusations of bias are as old as the ‘public service’ itself. Former BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons described recent “attacks” by BBC journalists on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as “quite extraordinary,” and he could “understand why people are worried” about impartiality.

Ironically the comments were made on BBC’s own Radio 4 World at One programme. “I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that the BBC has sought to hedge its bets as of late,” he suggested.

But in keeping balance on the topic itself, the BBC’s director general Tony Hall denied there was any bias at all. “That’s not the journalism I know or the journalists in this organisation I know,” he said. “I think the journalism of the BBC is impartial. We test all sides. The journalists in the BBC do a really hard job in the midst of controversy bringing a light and calm judgements to what’s going on.”

Kuenssberg Is Biased, The Public Are Sexist

Not everybody is convinced. One recent example that has been buzzing on social media was BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg’s coverage of the May 5, elections. She spent much of her time criticising Labour and even unearthed a document which revealed how “low Labour’s expectations were and how they planned to spin it” – putting this to John McDonnell in a ‘gotcha’ moment.

It’s not necessarily the fact that she did some investigative journalism that’s the problem, but that the overall vibe was anti-Labour. Where was the equal amount of digging and criticism of the Conservatives?

After Twitter blew up with Tweets from the public and several celebrities, a petition was launched on the 38 Degrees campaign platform, calling for her job.

The narrative has now conveniently morphed from Kuenssberg’s apparent bias, to the petition being a vehicle for sexism. 38 Degrees said the vitriol against the journalist got so bad that they decided to remove it completely, preferring to champion equality of the sexes over equality in the news.

“I am really concerned that a petition hosted on the 38 Degrees website has been hijacked, and used as a focal point for sexist and hateful abuse made towards Laura Kuenssberg on Twitter,” said 38 Degrees executive director David Babbs in a statement. “That is totally unacceptable and, with the agreement of the petition starter, we’ve taken the petition down to prevent it being used in this way. There is no place in the 38 Degrees family for sexism or any form of discrimination or hate speech.”

Quite why the organisation feels responsible for what individuals do is anyone’s guess, but now a host of articles lambasting sexist social media users are appearing throughout the press. Such as this Talking about sexist abuse of Laura Kuenssberg isn’t dodging the issue – it’s the whole point, piece by Laura Bates.

Even David Cameron himself was called to respond to the “hate campaign” by Conservative MP Lucy Allan during prime minister’s questions. He responded with the following:

“We must have a robust and lively democracy. But some of the things people say on Twitter, knowing that they are in some way anonymous, are frankly appalling and people should be ashamed of the sort of sexist bullying that often takes place.”

Is the BBC biased? Yes! Could people be nicer to each other? Yes!

What a valuable lesson we have all learned.

BBC admit intentionally damaging Corbyn leadership with contrived live resignation

According to the Media Reform CoalitionCorbyn was ‘systematically undermined’ and attacked by the British press as soon as he became leader. These damning figures show that sixty percent of the pieces involving Corbyn during his first seven days of leadership were negative. What is more surprising is that these figures do not even include one of the worst culprits of all: the BBC.

Shortly after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party in September, the BBC were accused of an ‘anti Corbyn bias’ and challenged with a 61,000 strong petition demanding that they stop using the prefix ‘left-wing’ when reporting on events related to his leadership. But before he even won a stunning 59.5% of the vote, ensuring the largest democratic mandate of any Labour leader in modern history, Jeremy Corbyn was subject to what a source from his leadership campaign went as far as describing a ‘complete hatchet job’. The Panorama episode in question was alleged to have attracted a large number of complaints, but the BBC refused to release the figures.

Former BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, even wrote to his colleagues over concerns about the BBC’s bias towards Corbyn, and Channel 4’s Michael Crick issued a stunning rebuke to broadcasters referring to non-left MPs as ‘moderates’. Despite these protestations, as we begin a New Year, it is evident that the BBC has not taken any New Year’s Resolutions to become a little bit more balanced in the face of a broader, more inclusive political spectrum.

Instead, they continue to undermine Corbyn’s authority and position as Leader of the Opposition. It was bad enough when they were wheeling out former Blair advisors such as John McTernan at every possible opportunity, leading to satirical (or serious?) speculation that he was squatting in the BBC studios waiting for the inevitable call-ups.

But the so-called ‘revenge reshuffle’ has led to a shocking revelation, that BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil and so-called ‘moderate’ Labour MP Stephen Doughty planned his live resignation on their program hours before it even began. The admission from an ‘output editor’ of the Daily Politics was made on a BBC blog but was shortly taken down afterwards (the cached version is available here). In this blog, they let slip that Andrew Neil floated the idea to Kuenssberg, who was reported to have thought “it was a great idea”. Knowing full well it would inflict maximum damage on the Labour leader resigning five minutes before Prime Minister’s Questions, both Kuenssberg and Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South & Penarth, seemed more than happy to oblige.

Despite the fact that a live on-air resignation could be considered explosive, dramatic broadcasting, it beggars belief how it is the job of the BBC’s political editor to be of service to an evidently resentful shadow cabinet member intent on further weakening the Labour leadership. Or is it?

After all, in the first five days of 2016, Twitter had been subject to thirty speculative, often opinionated tweets from Kuenssberg about Labour’s reshuffle. Doesn’t seem so bad, right? Perhaps not. But this is in comparison to zero tweets on rail fares, zero tweets on the Housing & Planning Bill, one tweet on the floods which have ravaged the country and eight on the cataclysmic divide in the Conservative Party over their membership of the European Union.

It is baffling how relentless and incessant the coverage of Corbyn’s reshuffle was in comparison to the hundreds of reshuffles that have taken place over the years. Not only does the media orgy over the ‘revenge reshuffle’ accentuate the media are insistent on undermining Corbyn’s leadership, but more importantly, it makes a mockery of the problems that are facing millions of people up and down this country today. It is an unmistakable slap in the face to the vast majority of viewers who want to see impartiality, balance of opinion and an unbiased BBC.

You can complain to the BBC here.

BBC’s Kuenssberg makes a claim so ludicrous about her ‘impartiality’ that you’ll splutter your coffee

BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg made what many will consider to be a ludicrous comment in her recent interview with Press Gazette:

I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC.

Impartiality? Kuenssberg?

So Kuenssberg suggests her dedication to “impartiality” knows no bounds. But her reporting has been beset with allegations of severe bias from BBC viewers, concerned with her balance. Back in May, a petition to sack her for pro-Conservative bias gained 35,000 signatures in a handful of days. 38 Degrees removed the petition after politicians and the mainstream media peddled a fake smear campaign against its supporters.

Kuenssberg’s interview with Press Gazette follows the media organisation awarding her ‘Journalist of the Year’. She also said:

Everybody has to be part of the BBC because everybody has to pay for it. That is our precious jewel and I guard nothing more important than our impartiality.

Kuenssberg is right. Everyone does pay for the BBC through the license fee. But the claim that everyone is a part of the BBC seems like a stretch of the imagination. Licence fee payers have no control over how their money is spent. People do not vote openly for which journalistic endeavours get funding. That is decided in closed board rooms by executives.


The BBC Political Editor also praised what she sees as diversity in the mainstream media:

they want to enjoy all the fantastic variety of goods we have to feast on in the British press and I wouldn’t change that for a second.

But the UK scored 38th in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index, lower than Ghana, Tonga and Belize. Reporters Without Borders cited “media ownership by conglomerates” as why Europe “seemed to be on a downhill course”.

Contrary to Kuenssberg’s claim, it appears a lack of plurality contributed to the UK’s low ranking. And a YouGov study found that British people perceive their press to be ‘the most right-wing in Europe’. Correspondingly, Rupert Murdoch’s News UK controls a third of our national newspapers – 70% of which are owned by just three companies.

The “fantastic variety of goods” Kuenssberg speaks of looks like different shades of neoliberalism to many.

The BBC’s own reporting

Like her comments in the interview, the Political Editor’s reporting does not appear to reflect reality. Des Freedman of Counterfire responded in the following way after Kuenssberg won Journalist of the Year:

The Press Gazette British Journalism Awards, which have just announced that the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, is their ‘journalist of the year’, is sponsored by Heineken. There must have been an awful lot of it splashing around when the judges were making their decision.

Apparently, the thing that swung it for her was her fantastic coverage of the EU referendum: “In a tumultuous year, she rose to the challenge and made the story of Brexit her own.”

This is quite an accolade given the fact that she is the leading voice of a broadcast system that treated the Brexit debate purely as an argument amongst different Tory factions in which Labour, women and issues beyond talk of immigration, business and the referendum itself were largely absent.

However, I do believe that Ms Kuenssberg does deserve an award given her unflinching loyalty to the project to diminish Jeremy Corbyn in the eyes of her viewers.

The New Statesman conducted analysis into broadcaster coverage of the EU referendum that supports Freedman’s point.

It analysed the main evening bulletins on the BBC, Channel 5 (5pm), Channel 4 (7pm), ITV, and Sky News (10pm). The findings showed that, while Remain and Brexit voices were balanced, a huge 71.2% of political sources were from the Conservative Party, compared to just 18.4% from Labour.

Impartial journalism?

When questioned on alleged bias, the BBC claims it is “impartial”, saying:

The BBC is impartial and our journalists put their personal views to one side when they join the corporation. Our editorial guidelines on impartiality and conflicts of interest can be found here:

But a lot of academic evidence says otherwise:

  • major content analysis from Cardiff University revealed that the BBC is pro-business and Conservative-leaning in its coverage.
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science found strong media bias against Corbyn, claiming the press had turned into an “attackdog” against the opposition leader.
  • The UK’s public service broadcaster gave double the airtime to Corbyn’s critics than to his allies at the start of the Labour coup, according to content analysis from the Media Reform Coalition.

For many BBC viewers, Kuenssberg claiming she would rather “die in a ditch” than compromise the BBC’s impartiality is beyond comedy. The BBC needs to stop merely insisting it’s impartial and start offering counter-evidence to the series of damning reports into its coverage.

Get Involved!

– You may like to make an official complaint about BBC bias here.

– You might also like to remind Laura Kuenssberg very politely about her responsibilities as a public service broadcaster.

Secret DWP Documents Prove They Silenced The Media From Running Stories They Didn’t Approve Of

Following a 13 month battle, the DWP have finally been forced to release secret documents illustrating the tactics they use to control and manipulate the media.

The documents reveal that the DWP monitors and analyses both mainstream and social media to reduce and manage negative coverage.

And even more worryingly, the documents show the DWP have managed to kill hundreds of stories by making sure that they are not reported on.

Almost every month since March 2014 the DWP communications team has produced “Media Evaluation Reports” detailing the ways and methods that the DWP controls negative stories about them in the media.

The DWP refused to release the reports since the Disability News Service(DNS) originally requested them in September 2015 stating they were “commercially sensitive”.

Finally after a struggle that took over a year, and a complaint by the DNS to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the documents have finally been released.

The reports show that on a nearly monthly basis from March 2014 to September 2015 the DWP “spiked” (persuaded journalists not to run) a total of 385 stories.

The highest month for spiked stories was June 2015 when the department managed to successfully kill a massive 46 negative stories.

The second highest was March 2014 when the DWP terminated 44 stories.

In August 2015 the DWP “proactively briefed” the media about long-awaited statistics which showed the amount of ESA claimants who had died after being found fit for work, and successfully spiked coverage in a range of news outlets.

The reports confirm that the DWP considers the right-wing press to be supportive of them, and highlights cases where they have used them to “set the record straight” and further government policy.

The reports show that the DWP closely monitors media output, and compiles a “sentiment of articles” chart every month to make sure that they receive positive coverage.

The reports give valuable insight into a department that is unhealthily focused on the press coverage they receive.

The fact that they have managed to kill so many stories that they don’t approve of raises serious questions as to how the department is exercising its influence over the free press.

The role of journalism is to bring people the truth behind the DWP’s rhetoric, not to act as the chief mouthpiece for it.

Washington Post admits notorious article accusing websites of spreading fake Russian news may have been a bit fake

  • Washington Post has appended its story accusing the Russian governmentof spreading fake news to influence the US election 
  • The newspaper had reported claims from anonymous group PropOrNot 
  • Group said it identified 200 websites as 'routine peddlers of Russian propaganda' - some knowingly and others as 'useful idiots'
  • List included the likes of The Drudge Report and Zero Hedge although The Post did not publish the names
  • Article sparked fierce criticismand even threats of legal action   
  • The Post has since published an editor's note saying it does not vouch for the claims of PropOrNot
  • PropOrNot has also removed the names of several media outlets from its listThe Washington Post has appended its story accusing 'Russia of spreading fake news', saying it does not vouch for its 'experts' findings. Vladimir Putin (pictured) has been repeatedly accused of trying to interfere with the US election

The Washington Post has appended its story accusing 'Russia of spreading fake news', saying it cannot vouch for the research of its independent 'experts.' 

The newspaper had reported claims from anonymous group PropOrNot which said it had identified more than 200 websites as 'routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season' - some knowingly and others as 'useful idiots.'

While The Post did not name the 'peddlers', a link to PropOrNot's website listed media outlets such as The Drudge Report and Zero Hedge among those responsible.

The article, - the newspaper's most read story the day it was published - was met with fierce backlash and even threats of legal action from some of the websites that felt they had been unfairly labelled. 

PropOrNot has since removed several of those outlets from its original list. Russia tests terrifying unmanned 'drone submarine' capable...Dramatic moment Russian special forces use a machinegun...

Now, a lengthy editor's note has appeared on the top of The Post's November 24 article, titled 'Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say.'

It appears to try and distance the newspaper from its source. 

'The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot's findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so,' the note stated.


The Washington Post on Nov. 24 published a story on the work of four sets of researchers who have examined what they say are Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy and interests. 

One of them was PropOrNot, a group that insists on public anonymity, which issued a report identifying more than 200 websites that, in its view, wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda. A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. 

The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list. 

'Since publication of The Post's story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.'  

The amendment also stated that a number of the websites on PropOrNot's propaganda peddler list have objected to their inclusion while some of the outlets, along with several others who were never included on that list, 'have publicly challenged the group's methodology and conclusions.'

Those challengers include Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, a well-respected researcher who has investigated Russian propaganda for years, who branded PropOrNot's research 'an amateur attempt.' 

'I think it should have never been an article on any news site of any note,' he told the New Yorker's Adrian Chen who branded the report 'a mess.'

Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev, an expert on Russian propaganda, even suggested the possibility PropOrNot could be working on behalf of the Ukraine in their own propaganda war against Russia. 

'The most striking issue is the overly broad criteria used to identify which outlets spread propaganda,' he warned. 'To PropOrNot, simply exhibiting a pattern of beliefs outside the political mainstream is enough to risk being labelled a Russian propagandist.'

The Naked Capitalism blog threatened to sue the Washington Post earlier this week and demanded a retraction.  

While newspaper declined to issue a retraction, the editor's note distances it from the claims made by the researchers.

The newspaper had reported claims from anonymous group PropOrNot which said they had identified more than 200 websites as 'routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season' - some as 'useful idiots' (file picture) 

The Post's article went onto say that Russia was hoping the spread of 'fake news' would swing the US election for Donald Trump.

Among 'fake' stories peddled by accounts with alleged links to Moscow was one focused on Clinton's apparent ill health after she fell ill at a 9/11 memorial event in September.

Speculation grew over her condition after she appeared to faint on camera while getting in to her car. A string of stories ensued after the Democratic candidate appeared at other events fighting a lingering cough.

It was later revealed she was battling pneumonia. Some outlets, however, picked up on claims she was suffering Parkinson's disease or Syphilis.

The unfounded reports were then shared thousands of times on Twitter, said the experts.

The report  came after widespread claims Vladimir Putin, a vocal Trump supporter, was behind the Democratic National Committee hack which exposed thousands of emails from Clinton's inner circle.

Read more:

It’s not enough to ignore bogus stories. Help slow their proliferation with Slate’s new debunking tool.

One of the more extreme symptoms of media dysfunction in the past several months has been the ascendance of “fake news”—fabricated news stories that purport to be factual.


Will Oremus is Slate’s senior technology writer. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter. The phenomenon is not altogether novel, but the scale at which it is now being produced and consumed is unprecedented. A BuzzFeed data analysis found that viral stories falsely claiming that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump, that Hillary Clinton was implicated in the murder of an FBI agent, that Clinton had sold weapons to ISIS, all received more Facebook engagement than the most popular news stories from established outlets such as the New York Times and CNN. Made-up stories with a liberal slant made the rounds as well, although the evidence suggests they propagated less widely. And the fakery didn’t stop with the election: The “Pizzagate” meme, which inspired an armed man to open fire inside a Washington, D.C., pizzeria earlier this month, began as a conspiracy theory but has been widely circulated by fake news sites.

At a time when trust in the media is at an all-time low and political polarization is intensifying, fake news is hardly the only pox afflicting our democracy. But it is one against which we can try to inoculate ourselves, and perhaps one another.

Slate has created a new tool for internet users to identify, debunk, and—most importantly—combat the proliferation of bogus stories. Conceived and built by Slate developers, with input and oversight from Slate editors, it’s a Chrome browser extension called This Is Fake, and you can download and install it for free either on its home page or in the Chrome web store. The point isn’t just to flag fake news; you probably already know it when you see it. It’s to remind you that, anytime you see fake news in your feed, you have an opportunity to interrupt its viral transmission, both within your network and beyond.

How It Works

Once you install the extension, as you scroll through your Facebook feed, stories that Slate has identified as fake news will be flagged with a red banner over the preview image, informing you that they’ve been debunked. What differentiates This Is Fake from some other, earlier experiments in fake-news prevention is that the banner links directly to an article from a reputable source that debunks the story in question, and it prompts the user to share the debunking as a comment on the offending post. This is the antiviral functionality, one whose success depends on your participation. When the tool sees a fake story in your feed, it will look like this:

Similarly, stories from websites we’ve identified as serial fabricators will be flagged with a banner noting that their source is known for spreading fake news. Users who have installed This Is Fake and connected it to their Facebook accounts can also help us build our running list of fake stories and repeat offenders by flagging them for our moderators.

Get Slate in your inbox.

What Counts as Fake

So how do we decide which stories count as fake? It’s a crucial question, and a surprisingly tricky one. The short answer is that we rely on crowdsourcing and human moderation by Slate staffers and contributors, who will manage a database of flagged sites and links.

Here’s the longer answer: Until recently, fake news often referred to the news satire of publications like the Onion and shows like The Daily Show. But the term was given new meaning by the recent flood of false news stories concocted primarily to deceive rather than to lampoon or poke fun. And in the wake of the election, fake news has become a political football, with some Trump critics blaming it for his victory while some Trump supporters throw the label back at the mainstream media. In the process, the phrase fake news has threatened to become a catchall for a motley array of perceived problems in public discourse, from partisan propaganda to misleading tweets or headlines, to biased or flawed news coverage by major media organizations. Even works of commentary and opinion journalism now risk being labeled “fake news” by readers who disagree with their premises or conclusions.

Propaganda, bias, and misleading headlines are all issues worthy of attention in a broader examination of the media. So are the factual errors that established media organizations routinely make in the course of their work, whether through honest error or negligence. These problems deserve to be addressed in their own right and called by their own distinct names.

Yet there remains the smaller, simpler, and more discrete problem of stories that are designed to look like news articles but whose key “facts” have been invented by their authors—and persuasively debunked by reputable sources. It is this problem that This Is Fake is intended to mitigate.

Even this narrow definition of fake news is not without its complications, of course. “Pope Endorses Donald Trump” appears to have been invented from whole cloth by a website that traffics almost exclusively in “fantasy news.” But the story about Clinton selling weapons to ISIS is rated by Snopes as a “mixture” of truth and fiction, because it appears to have been at least loosely rooted in claims by WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange that U.S.-supplied weapons made their way into ISIS’s hands.

We count both of these as fake news, because their core assertions are demonstrably and intentionally false. We apply the same standard to bogus stories that appeal to liberal viewpoints. But we would not count as fake news a story whose core claims are a matter of genuine dispute, with evidence on both sides. Nor would we count as fake news an opinion column that makes a prediction that turned out to be false, a news story that contains factual errors peripheral to its main point, or a work of analysis or commentary that uses hyperbole to advance a controversial argument. We hope users will use the tool in that spirit, and not to indiscriminately flag stories whose tone or viewpoint irks them. (We also distinguish between news and conspiracy theories, which may be genuinely believed by the people who purvey them. Our database focuses on the former, although it’s worth noting that fake news stories often have their roots in conspiracy theories.)

While our moderators will exercise their best judgment and cite sources wherever possible, we know that there is no acid test for fake news. This tool is not perfect, and indeed no such tool ever can be. It’s also possible that you’ll install This Is Fake and see nothing flagged save for the occasional story shared by your estranged uncle. The point is to find fake news where it is spread and reach out to the people in your timeline who are spreading it. We hope that by combining crowdsourcing with thoughtful human curation, we can improve upon or at least complement some other early efforts that either relied on static, third-party lists or used rudimentary artificial intelligence to tackle a problem that is probably too nuanced for A.I. to solve. We also know that Facebook and Google are working on various tools to disincentivize fake news on their platforms, although both have historically proved reticent to exercise human editorial judgment. With This Is Fake, our intent is to build an ever-growing database that proves helpful to its users and provides at least a modest counterweight to the forces that drive fake news’ virality.

Fake news is not the whole problem with media credibility today, nor the largest one. But it’s one that we as an industry and a society should be able to tackle together, regardless of our political differences. We invite you to join us in the effort.

Previously in Slate: