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Top Indian News Site Exposed For Fake News About Russia, Syria, And “Israel”


May 3, 2009
Top Indian News Site Exposed For Fake News About Russia, Syria, And “Israel”

Andrew Korybko in Moscow


Defence View, a top Indian news site whose Facebook page Indian Military Forces is followed by over 1.2 million people, was exposed for sharing fake news about Russia, Syria, and “Israel”. The article in question is headlined “Russia officially announced its readiness to shoot down Israeli planes in case of new raids on Syria” and was published by an unnamed author on 21 February 2021. The problem, however, is that no such “official announcement” was ever made. Russian President Putin's Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev did not threaten “to shoot down Israeli planes in case of new raids on Syria”. They correctly quoted him in the text, but then deliberately misled their audience with a factually false headline which reflects the interpretation of an undisclosed number of so-called “analysts” and not what that Mr. Lavrentiev actually said about that.

Independent, well-respected, and highly reliable Russian international news site Interfax reported on the entirety of his comments in their article titled “Москва предупредила Израиль о последствиях дальнейших ударов по Сирии”. It's in Russian but Google Translate does a decent job conveying his main points. Nowhere in the report does it contain anything related to an “official announcement” concerning Russia's “readiness to shoot down Israeli planes in case of new raids on Syria”. Not only does this fact prove that Defence View and its over 1.2 million-person Facebook page violated all journalistic standards by dishonestly passing off unnamed “analysts'” interpretations as official Russian policy, but it also discredits their disclaimer which lied by claiming that “All the information on this website – https://defenceview.in/ – is published in good faith”.

Those outside of the subcontinent might not be aware of it, but India is widely regarded as the world's worst fake news factory. A survey by Microsoft in early 2019 revealed that “Indians were most likely to encounter fake news and internet hoaxes, with 7 points higher than the global average”. These findings were widely reported on at the time in leading global media such as Business Insider. Those who closely follow that country's mainstream and alternative media spaces probably already experienced this first-hand on multiple occasions. Only Defence View can account for why it manufactured fake news about Russia, Syria, and “Israel”, but it must be publicly held to task for what it did. Those who were affected by it should politely ask them on social media under their posts why they did this and thereby also ruined their entire site's credibility.

This is extremely important to do because many people were misled by this fake news, which went viral in the pro-Syrian circles of the Alt-Media Community. Many well-intentioned but nevertheless naive people believed the false report because it conformed to their wishful thinking expectations. They regrettably lacked the media literacy to differentiate between fake news, journalism, and analysis otherwise they'd have seen that an “analysis” was passed off as “journalism” in order to create a fake news product alleging that Russia made an “official announcement” against “Israel” that it never actually did. Those folks should have looked for more reliable sources to confirm the details of this Indian report, such as whether any of Russia's publicly financed English-language international media outlets like RT, Sputnik, or TASS wrote anything about it.

In any case, this fake news was so harmful because it misled people into getting unrealistically high and ultimately false hopes about Russian policy in Syria. There's been a long-running and concerted fake news campaign over the years since the onset of Russia's September 2015 anti-terrorist intervention in Syria alleging that President Putin authorized this move as part of some far-reaching plan to push back against “Israel”. This is patently false but nevertheless unquestionably believed as fact by those who desperately wish that it was true. When objectively existing and easily verifiable developments such as regular high-level bilateral talks (including at the leadership level) debunk this notion, the most impassioned believers resort to the conspiratorial “5D chess” theory claiming that he's only “tricking the Zionists” and “is secretly still against them”.

Regrettably, the “5D chess” theory is extremely popular among many of the pro-Syrian members of the Alt-Media Community who've been indoctrinated with a plethora of fake news for over half a decade already into falsely thinking that Russia and “Israel” are rivals, if not sworn enemies. I've spent the past several years comprehensively debunking this theory with facts, including those sourced from the official Kremlin website. I compiled a list of my 15 most relevant analyses in my latest article for The Alt World provocatively posing the question “Why Isn't Alt-Media Asking About The S-300s After Biden's Latest Strike In Syria?” It's since gone viral after being republished by the popular Centre for Research on Globalization and then cited by the influential Paul Craig Roberts as the basis for his thought-provoking article on the topic.

The purpose in pointing this all out is to draw attention to Defence View's manipulation of its targeted audience, which presumably is those who believe the “5D chess” theory. Whoever wrote that fake news article knew that it was false because they made the conscious choice to deliberately misreport unnamed “analysts'” interpretations of Mr. Lavrentiev's statement as an “official announcement”, including in their headline. This might have been done to generate more traffic and thus ad revenue to enrich whoever it is that runs the site. Or, it might have been an attempt to generate false expectations among an influential segment of the Alt-Media Community so that they can then be manipulated even further after Russia once again fails to shoot down any attacking jets considering how emotionally vulnerable some folks might then be to hostile “suggestions”.

Only Defence View can account for why it manufactured its viral fake news article, but these are relevant questions for folks to consider publicly but politely asking them on social media. After all, not only did I prove that they lied about Mr. Lavrentiev's “official announcement”, but the latest US strike less than a week later proved that Russia wasn't interested in shooting down anything, whether “Israeli” or American, exactly as I've argued all these years and reiterated in my earlier cited analysis. The key takeaways from this scandal are as follows: pro-Syrian members of the Alt-Media Community are desperate to believe whatever conforms to their wishful thinking expectations; their media literacy must therefore improve in order to avoid being misled in the future; and there must be growing awareness of the unofficial Russian-”Israeli” alliance in Syria against Iran.

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