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Friday, 30 November 2012

Web Spread Lies and Myths

We have talked before about 'urban myths' and the power of the web to disseminate them ..... this is as nasty an example as you could wish for .....

There is a story doing the rounds amongst right wing conspiracists and anti-muslim groups on the web, that the late US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, wasn't just murdered in the attack on his embassy building, but that he was either sexually raped or raped with an instrument before he died. Searching the web for this story "Ambassador Christopher Stevens raped" produces 1,820,000 results, mostly repeating the story ..... there was also allegedly video of some of the story.

The top hits from this results are dominated by conspiracy web sites promoting the idea .... in fact all the evidence is that its totally false. The story was started by a Lebanese 'News' site (of doubtful political leanings) that reproduced what it purported to be a AFP (Agence France Presse), report .... this was later denied by AFP as ever being run. They also contacted the Lebanese 'Tayyar news' agency, who immediately pulled the report ..... but the damage was done.

Rescuers Pull A Man From The Libyan Embassy Attack

By now, in many American eyes, the report has become the 'unvarnished truth',  and passed almost verbatim from site to site as uncontested 'fact'. However the reality is that Ambassador Stevens was dragged from the ruins 'alive' but very badly injured from extreme smoke inhalation, and that frantic efforts were made to revive him both at the scene and on the journey, and then at the hospital. Sadly he died, and the Libyan doctor who led the efforts to revive him said that he died of 'severe asphyxiation', and 'internal stomach bleeding', caused by smoke inhalation, despite their best efforts. He added that there was no other injuries to the man who died.

The video, actually shows the locals trying to rescue people from the burning building ..... perhaps the most telling part is that voices can be heard in Arabic, yelling that he was still breathing, and that "We need .... to take him to the hospital" .... which is where the US officials later found his body.

It should also be noted that the Libyans who pulled the ambassador from the compound, didn't know who he was ... this only came to light after he had died ...... the web is a very dangerous tool in the hands of extremists of any culture or religion.

2 comments:

  1. The web is a tool for good but its easily used to disseminate lies about many things. The worst offenders are the scraping bots which just steal and repost stories, thus creating a critical mass which makes it look as though something may be true.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If the story had been true the US press wouldn't have covered it up, so the version here is likely to be true.

    ReplyDelete

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