In the best of times on Twitter, it’s still difficult to discern what is legitimate news, what is satirical trolling, what’s just a bad joke, and what is malevolent disinformation.
In a pandemic, when stories are rapidly updating, it’s downright impossible. Now, people are falling for a comedian’s tweet that White House adviser Stephen Miller has contracted coronavirus.
Comedian Jena Friedman posted it last night, and it’s already racked up 16,000 likes.
She followed it up with a tweet that read “Fake News is all we have.”
Even a cursory glance at her bio would reveal she isn’t a journalist, but most Twitter users aren’t the most discerning consumers of news.
And as people have grown infuriated by President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic, that one of the more reviled members of his administration might have contracted it, well you could see why people would want to believe.
The claim spread fast on Twitter.
Others used it to crack a joke about Miller, who has been revealed to be a racist, doesn’t have a soul.
And while people may want to believe any news like that, retweeting a joke doesn’t make it true. Cathartic as it may be.