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article imageOp-Ed: Unbelievable truth? Social media and conspiracies

By Tim Sandle     Dec 23, 2016 in Internet
The Internet is awash with false news and conspiracy theories. Many of the 'theories' appear too bizarre have any semblance in reality, yet many do. We examine 2016's highlights (or low lights).
To begin with, it's important to establish that this article is an opinion piece. To this journalist (and, it seems, many other people) the news stories are too bizarre to be true. Some may have begun as jokes and been tweeted to the extent they become accepted as 'facts' by others; others appear simply inventions. However, this view may not be shared by everyone, so if, as the reader, you think some of the selections below have a grounding in reality then please accept my apology.
A screenshot of a viral video that shows Earth at night.
A screenshot of a viral video that shows Earth at night.
YouTube
In January 2016, a tweet by the rapper B.o.B. proved popular and whipped up one of the oldest debates (and one of the oldest disproved theories) - the the Earth is flat. The Atlanta musician tweeted:
The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart... where is the curve ? please explain this
For this he received 3.6 thousand re-tweets and, even more strangely, 3.6 thousands likes. Many ancient cultures subscribed to a flat Earth cosmography, including Greece until the classical period; however, evidence that the Earth is spherical was first presented in the 6th century BCE, by Pythagoras. And there's been the moon landing since then.
katyperry
Katy Perry
The Toad photography
A video on YouTube claiming that Katy Perry is JonBenét Ramsey, retelling a theory from 2014 resurfaced this year alongside a CBS documentary about the girl’s murder. Ramsey was a six-year-old American beauty queen who was killed in her family's home in Boulder, Colorado, on December 25, 1996. The video picked up 2.7 million views. Here is the documentary:
The video makes a poor attempt, using CGI, to impose Perry's face onto the child and it is clearly nonsense.
Elvis Presley in a scene from  Elvis: That s The Way It Is
Elvis Presley in a scene from 'Elvis: That's The Way It Is'
Warner Bros
Also on YouTube is yet more evidence that Elvis Presley is alive. Grainy footage purportedly showing an 81 year-old Elvis has been posted. The person who posted the footage writes: "He raises his 2 fingers to the top of his left head as a proof of life signal. In Chaldean Numerology the numerical value of V sign in Numerology is: 9. Proof of life!!!....he told us he is alive with the simple V sign. Number 9 ,'I'm Alive' He is giving us a clue that he knows we are all there watching him and to his most loyal fans that he is indeed with us." Hardly convincing, but have a look for yourself:
Firefighters extinguish a fire amongst the wreckage of flight MH17 on July 17  2014
Firefighters extinguish a fire amongst the wreckage of flight MH17 on July 17, 2014
Alexander Khudoteply, AFP
A more politically charged theory is that MH370 and MH17 are the same airplane. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014 and has yet to be found. Four months later, on July, 17 2014, another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH17, crashed in eastern Ukraine (with most commentators agreeing it was shot down by a missile).
Former Cuban President  87-year-old Fidel Castro makes a rare public appearance at the opening of an...
Former Cuban President, 87-year-old Fidel Castro makes a rare public appearance at the opening of an arts studio in Havana, January 9, 2014.
Estudios Revolucion, Havana
The oddest 'political story', which made the rounds on Reddit, was that Fidel Castro is Justin Trudeau’s dad.
File Photo: Multi-billionaire Donald Trump helps open the brand new Trump Tower in Toronto  located ...
File Photo: Multi-billionaire Donald Trump helps open the brand new Trump Tower in Toronto, located at the corner of Bay and Adelaide Streets, in 2012.
There was also the re-tweeted comment from Donald Trump, from 2012, that climate change is a hoax made up by China:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive
This, of course, defies all accepted scientific thinking.
An outfit called Worldtruth.tv argues that MH370 was hijacked and flown to U.S. military in the Indian Ocean, and that the Ukrainian shooting was staged. Highly improbable but you can read the material here.
A Chipotle storefront
A Chipotle storefront
Taking a high-profile news story, Listverse reports on several stories that seek to infer that the Chipotle Mexican Grill multi-state food poisoning outbreak was the result of bioterroism, perhaps funded by those wishing to promote genetically modified foods (given the restaurant chains refusal to use GMO products). This certainly isn't the view of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Kylie Jenner
Kylie Jenner
Via Flickr Creative Commons
Moving to reality TV, another popular story was that the lead singer of the U.S. pop trio Terror Jr ('Lisa Terror'), who always hides her face, is in fact Kylie Jenner. This appeared in several tweets. Jenner denies any involvement in the pop group.
This is just a small selection of the stranger "news" stories to take to social media. The key message is that fact-based journalism remains important, ideally journalism that links to two or three sources (as Digital Journal's articles invariably do).
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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