Identity

How “Someone’s” Satire Turns into “News“ on Sputnik – Chronicles of Repeated Disinformation

12 December, 2019

On December 11, 2019, Sputnik-Georgia published an article titled “Women Proclaimed as Domestic Animals: A Progressive Step”. According to Sputnik, a commission of scientists in Saudi Arabia established that women are animals just like camels, dromedaries, and goats, therefore they should have the same rights as mammals. Moreover, the article notes that the decision is “historical”, as women only had household purposes until then. Sputnik cites World News Daily Report as the source of information.

Sputnik-Georgia: “A scientific commission re-iterated the statements that women do not have soul, however, they confirmed that they have the same qualities as mammals: seven vertebrae in the neck and the ability to pro-create and breastfeed being some of the examples.”

The material published by Sputnik-Georgia is a fabrication. The story disseminated by the agency was published by a satirical edition World News Daily Report in March 2016. Although Sputnik cites this edition, it does not indicate that it is satirical and that the story about women being proclaimed as domestic animals in Saudi Arabia is a total fabrication.

The story was originally published on March 7, 2016 on satirical portals World News Daily Report and Journal de Montreal, however, Journal de Montreal is not available at this point.

Disclaimer of World News Daily Report reads:

“All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.”

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Sputnik also uses a photo in the article that allegedly depicts the scientific panel during which the decision on proclaiming women as domestic animals was made. The same photo is attached to the 2016 publication of the World News Daily Report. According to Snopes, the photo shows an annual event – World Government Summit – held in Dubai in 2016. The list of panelists in 2016 program, published on the website of the summit, does not include any Saudi scientists.

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Sputnik’s link has more than 2,600 interactions on Facebook. This information was disseminated on Facebook by Sputnik’s Facebook page, Read Time, and “დედაქალაქი” (Capital City), and shared in a group called   პროტესტი! Protest! Протест!

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At different times, the fake news was showcased as truth by various Russian webpages: «Русское агентство новостей» (Russian News Agency), Historytime.ru, Vlasti.net. On December 4, a news agency lenta.ua published the story in the entertainment section.

Showcasing satirical, fabricated stories as real information

Showcasing satirical, fabricated stories as real news is one of the methods of propaganda. With this method, tabloid and propagandist editions aim to establish the opinion that phenomena like zoophilia and necrophilia are inherent features of the Western society.

Myth Detector has written about the fake news earlier as well. Earlier satirical news that were showcased as real by several Georgian media included stories about attempted rape of an alligator, a mummy, and a wax figure. A project of St. Petersburg troll factory, «ФАН», made up a story about a migrant raping a goat.


Prepared by Ani Kistauri
Regional Network of Media Literacy Lab