The Russian government has its own 'fake news' watchdog site

The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has jumped on the buzzword of the year.

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Andrew Dalton
February 22nd, 2017
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In Russia's heavily state-controlled media landscape, the government wants to make it clear when Western news outlets publish work it disagrees with. As Newsweek reports today, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched a "fake news" tracking page, which emblazons a comically large, red "FAKE" stamp on articles it deems untrue.

So far, the site has only attacked outlets in the US and the UK like the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Telegraph, NBC News and the Santa Monica Observer. As the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained to the government's own state-run RIA Novosti news agency, the site is intended to prevent the sharing of articles it believes are inaccurate.

"Here we will make an example of such propaganda dumped by various media outlets, providing links to their sources, and so on," Zakharova said. The site does not, however, explain why Russia's foreign ministry believes the articles are incorrect, it only provides the cryptic message "This material contains data, not corresponding to the truth" and a link to the original article. As Newsweek notes, in the Bloomberg article that currently appears on the site, the author quoted a Kremlin spokesperson denying allegations that the country was involved in hacking a French politician. So, it's unclear whether labeling the article "FAKE" is Russia's way of doubling down on their denial of the hacking, or disputing the article in its entirety. According to a recent poll conducted by the Russian government, the country's citizens are growing increasingly skeptical of objectivity and a quarter of the country feels that no source of information -- either on TV or online -- is trustworthy.

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