Staff at The Project have condemned a “disturbing and inaccurate” article satirising host Waleed Aly, after fans of an Australian alt-right publication shared the racist piece across social media as if it were fact.
The article, published Friday, imagined a “patronising, race-baiting” Aly defending the alleged assault of a teenage girl at Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station and arguing for an “unnecessary race war”.
The piece is one of many on the site which enforce racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic viewpoints.
(PEDESTRIAN.TV has chosen not to name the website in question, because fuck ’em.)
While the article bears a small ‘satire’ tag on the website, many Facebook users appear to have taken the headline as an established fact.
The post has been shared at least 130 times on the platform, with many users posting violent and hateful comments referring to the Gold Logie winner.
On Sunday night, the term ‘Waleed Aly’ was a trending topic on Twitter.
The Project‘s Twitter account refuted the article to one user last night, pointing out the piece was “Completely fake.”
“Please take a closer look at the article before you share it as though it’s true,” The Project tweeted.
This is #FakeNews and you know it is. There is not one ounce of truth to this report. It’s a complete fabrication under the guise of ‘satire’ and it’s abhorrent. We suggest deleting this tweet now.
— The Project (@theprojecttv) June 21, 2020
Susan Carland, Aly’s wife and an academic at Monash University, also disputed the piece.
“FOR GODS SAKE PEOPLE THIS IS NOT REAL,” she tweeted.
“Weird & blatantly untrue things about my husband are merrily posted online regularly & most I ignore (“someone’s wrong on the internet” isn’t a way to live a life),” she added.
“But this astounded me because so many people believed something so obviously fake.”
Despite the post being interpreted as genuine news by a staggering number of social media users, the article does not appear to have triggered Facebook’s misinformation or hate speech guidelines.
The post’s circulation has revived discussions about how social media giants approach the borderline of free speech and out-and-out hate speech – and why, exactly, so many users were willing to circulate a fabrication as fact.
The ‘satire’ (I use that term very loosely) article written about Waleed Aly is yet another example of why we need mandatory high school and tertiary classes on identifying online misinformation.
— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) June 21, 2020