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A Movement to Fight Misinformation... With Misinformation

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 9 February 2022

⏱️ 28 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


Birds Aren’t Real, a conspiracy theory with an apparently absurd premise, has become surprisingly popular in the past few years. But its followers were in on the joke: The movement’s aim was to poke fun at misinformation … by creating misinformation. Has it been successful? Guest: Taylor Lorenz, a former technology reporter for The New York Times.

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From the New York Times, I'm Annie Coriel. This is the Daily.


A new movement is underway to confront the growing threat of misinformation by creating misinformation.


Today, the improbable story of the group behind that movement, birds aren't real.


I spoke with my colleague, Taylor Lorenz.


It's Wednesday, February 9th.


Hi, Taylor. How are you? Hi, I'm good.


So, when you published this article back in December on Birds Aren't Real,


it was probably the first time that a lot of people had ever heard of this, quote, unquote, conspiracy.


It certainly was the first time I had heard of it.


So, at a very basic level, what is Birds Aren't Real?


Birds aren't real is a fake conspiracy movement, mostly supported by young people online that purports that birds are not real,


but were actually replaced by government drones back in the 1970s.


In the conspiracy lore, every bird is actually a surveillance tool by the state.


That's pretty funny.


Yeah, it's a parody conspiracy. It's almost a satire social movement.


People know that this is not real.


Got it. So then, why did you get interested in covering this?


I mean, things do come and go a lot on the internet, and it sounds like no one really believes in this.


So why in your mind was this fake conspiracy worth reporting on?


So, as an internet culture writer, I'm constantly keeping an eye on new trends, and they do come and go.


But this one really had staying power, and it seemed to speak to something deep within the psyche of Gen Z.


Uh-huh. I just noticed that the followers were very young and very dedicated, and their movement was manifesting increasingly in the real world.


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