It was almost as if whoever designed their website were unaware of the law on such matters, or indeed that SFFN had been caught gathering personal data. The site now claims “This site only has one way to collect your data - if you email us”, but also admits “We will keep your email until the end of the campaign unless you ask us to delete it”. That suggests the data will be retained until SFFN closes its doors.
Moreover, SFFN is still carrying on its smear campaign against sites that post both news and opinion, for instance Tweeting “Hi, @CrownPaints, @RevlonUK @revlon and @SimplyBeUK your ads are on fake news site Evolve Politics today. Top brands have taken action to remove their ads from this site. Find out more at [URL] PS Worse, the site is down so your money is being completely wasted”. The site is not down.
It was the same with the latest SFFN attack on The Canary. “Uh, @forestservice is this a good use of your taxpayer-funded spending? (1) Funding a British fake news site. (2) Asking British people to discover a US forest near them? Another example of poor algorithm-driven placement by digital ad middlemen”. Opinion does not equal fact.
Both Evolve Politics and The Canary are regulated by independent press regulator Impress. The Canary, as Zelo Street demonstrated last month, clearly marks its posts so the reader knows they are News or Comment - unlike newspapers and their websites. The constant smearing of them as “Fake News” is plain flat wrong. But SFFN is anonymous. We do not know whether it operates out of the UK, or some other jurisdiction.
Worse, SFFN has been caught peddling Fake News of its own. On its own homepage, the site tells “‘Fake news’ has injected a toxic cocktail of lies, conspiracy theories and hate into our politics. This stokes fear, racism, religious intolerance and misogyny. It has even swung elections. And there is evidence that it causes mental illness, especially among young people”. Sadly, the study linked does not stand up the mental illness claim.
Last month, Infoism advised “@SFFakeNews falsely claims there is evidence fake news ‘causes mental illness’. This claim needs removing from its website as it’s damaging and very unhelpful”. It was not removed; indeed, it is still there. So Infoism tried again the other day. “Hi guys. You’ve still got this fake news on your website. Are you going to remove it? Thanks”. The question remains unanswered, the advice ignored.
Stop Funding Fake News needs to stop targeting sites which it doesn’t like - malicious defunding attempts are totally out of order, as well as being potentially actionable. But more urgently, if it wants to be credible, it needs to stop peddling Fake News itself.
Otherwise, it would be campaigning against itself. Can you smell burning?
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