Note: Banned by Google. Leaked from Dark Web Level 1 or Level 2.
POLITICIANS ARE GREAT AMPLIFIERS
A lot of effort is put toward detecting misinformation at its source. Whether it’s 4chan, a subreddit or a WhatsApp group, knowing the origin of a hoax can help explain its appeal.
But as Data & Society’s Whitney Phillips has repeatedly noted, the channels of amplification matter. Media mechanisms can be gamed into giving an outright hoax the “oxygen” required to reach a much larger audience.
And it’s not just the media. Politicians have large megaphones both direct (their social media accounts) and indirect (their capacity to obtain media coverage). Some politicians have eagerly used these megaphones to amplify conspiracy theorists, whether it’s antivaxxers in Italy or birthers in the United States.
And so it was again last week, when the resigning Greek defense minister Panos Kammenos showed up in Parliament brandishing a photo of George Soros and Zoran Zaev. The smiling duo — the former founder of the Open Society Foundations and oh-so-frequent butt of political conspiracies, the latter the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) — were celebrating a historic agreement that should see FYROM renamed as North Macedonia in exchange for Greece dropping its veto of the country joining the EU and NATO.
Kammenos attacked this agreement as “the beginning of the implementation of the plan for the dissolution of Greece.”
This wasn’t just political hyperbole. Kammenos suspects foul financial play.
In November, he suggested former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias had been bribed into backing the deal by Soros, an accusation that led to the Kotzias’ resignation and (possibly) a lawsuit.
Shortly after his Parliament speech, Kammenos retweeted an article with the headline “Here’s how Soros bought Macedonia from SYRIZA,” referring to the party of Alexis Tsipras, the Prime Minister and Kammenos’ former governing ally.
The evidence for this extraordinary exposé? A report published by Open Society itself on the Northern Macedonian question. The most damning detail, apparently, was that the webpage hosting the report was dated Jan. 14 even though the PDF file itself had information about a parliamentary vote on Jan. 16. To the conspiracy-minded, this was an obvious sign of vote rigging — but what actually happened will be familiar to anyone writing about a story that is developing.
The report’s authors told us a final draft was ready on Jan. 15, with the outcome in Parliament assumed to be affirmative. The report was then published on Jan. 17.
To summarize: In support of a conspiracy about Soros subverting Greek democracy, Kammenos accused a foreign minister of getting bribed, bandied about a public photo as evidence of collusion, and retweeted to his 90,000 followers an entirely baseless article from a hyperpartisan outlet. Or, to put it otherwise: fact-checkers, keep your eyes on the politicians.